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Reviewed by Bernadette Acocella for Readers' Favorite
Poet Bill Bailey may have had himself in mind when he wrote in his poem Perspective: “there must be a poet who wanted life to rhyme.” Most of the poems in his collection A Moment’s Matinee rhyme in either quatrains or couplets, patterns that begin to feel heavy and repetitive about halfway through the collection. Bailey should include some more unrhymed poems to break up all of those rhymes. Bailey is also obviously a fan of Emily Dickinson and frequently uses her characteristic dashes. The poem Ice Storm reads like it came from Dickinson herself.
In spite of its unvaried forms, there are many shining moments in A Moment’s Matinee. Bailey’s rhymes are not unoriginal; he rhymes across languages in the poem Clown- the Ultimate Artist: “The cut-up makes his entrance with unnoticed/ savior-faire/ Each nuance meaning-laden, each act chosen with/care.” This poem is also an example of how Bailey meditates on the everyday or commonplace and produces a rather funny little poem. The poem Optimism contains some great images that tell us how “the years have gorged themselves on dreams” of Bailey’s, and includes the noteworthy phrase “flatulence of time.” The poem Get a Grip is about overly-zealous animal lovers and is another of the book’s more humorous moments.
Overall, Bailey has written a smart, quotable book that would benefit from just a little more diversity so readers can really see his talent. Also, a warning to readers: the vocabulary acrobatics start early in this collection, so if you didn’t pay attention in English class, have your dictionary nearby.