The Elusive Hold and Other Poems

Larry Odegaard

Publisher: Trafford Pages: 202 Price: (paperback) $18.95 ISBN: 9781412083560 Reviewed: June, 2012 Author Website: Visit »

Larry Odegaard’s voice in The Elusive Hold and Other Poems is passionate and his poet’s eye painterly, as in the title poem, which begins: “Night washes the twilight’s leave-taking / in darker hues / with a restless, brooding brush. / The way grows entangled” and in “The Connection,” in which he makes effective use of alliteration and shifts in rhythm, “where gang punks with graffiti spray / poison calligraphy in the refuge of darkness.”

The book is, according to the back cover, about “requited and unrequited love,” and while that is timeless terrain for poetry, the details that Odegaard, a gay man, includes bring a refreshing specificity not often found in self-published work. He makes frequent use of vivid, sensual similes, as in “The Leave Taking,” in which the speaker addresses a distant lover: “Drunken on memories falling like poppy seeds on swollen desires.”

Yet sometimes the similes are overwrought; later, the same poem contains the awkward comparison, “…I see our images pierce through / growing entangled / like tortured oaks.” Inclusion of purple prose adjectives like “tortured” and the book-wide frequency of melodramatic nouns such as “pain,” “sorrow,” “hopes,” “dreams,” “mourning,” etc. signal the need for more ruthless editing.

At 202 pages, this is a long book of poems. Line-by-line compression is not a strong point of this work–the book generally has a prose-y feel–but patient readers not looking for concision will find a kind of melancholy beauty in some of the tender imagery offered here and in the humble, romantic tone of the speaker.

Author's Current Residence
Chicago, Illinois
Available to buy at: