Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
How does one review a book of poetry, especially “a collection of poetic musings reflecting more than three decades of previously hidden creative mastery” by a poet who, hitherto, has been a much sought after ghostwriter and freelance writer? The answer for me is, you don’t. Instead, you share how those poetic musings and reflections of JC One Cannon in The Generosity of 2am have moved you like few other poets have. Words like “awesome” and “inspiring” fall short. Poetry, like art, is and always has been for me…and I’m sure many others…a very personal experience: few of us see the same things in an abstract painting. So, too, it is with poetry: though the experiences may be something we have all had at some time, each of us reads and feels the words differently.
And so it is, as JC One Cannon writes in his introduction to The Generosity of 2am, the sentiments in this book belong to anyone who sees themselves between the lines. He challenges us to find ourselves in his poems, to find our own stories, heartaches, loves, anger and joy. And those of us who accept his challenge will do just that. It is interesting to learn, as I did, when I tried to find some information on JC One Cannon online, that he has actually recorded some of his poems. It is wonderful to hear this gifted poet speak his words in his deep, rich voice that is surprisingly gentle when compared to the anger we sense in some of his poems.
And of course, he’s angry: he was born into poverty, “between two pennies” as his poem “Dirty Dishes” tells us. He was a troubled youth, spending time in correctional facilities and foster homes. But it’s a well-known fact that some of the greatest art and creative writing was born from suffering and struggle. As JC One Cannon puts it in “I AM ONE”, the only two things he had as a young man were God and words. Then, what a gift God gave him: the ability to use words as he does in this book, and tells us “…this is me, stepping from darkness into light, opening myself up and offering myself to whomever.”
The Generosity of 2am, incidentally, refers to that time between deep sleep and dawn when, bit by bit, our minds sift though our daily stresses and worries along with our deepest fears, dreams and hopes. This is such a private, personal time, like that between lovers. The hour of 2am is JC One Cannon’s mistress, lover, wife and ultimately, his muse. She allows JC One Cannon to be himself, to think what he wants without concern for what others think. It is a time when he speaks in sensual and sexual terms, often blatantly so, but then, he can think what and how he wants, and that 2am time span is obviously his time of greatest creativity.
It’s almost funny to hear JC One Cannon state that he doesn’t consider himself a poet. Really? It is most definitely a poet who writes beautiful lines like these: “Where the unspoken and unwritten swim together like water and light” or “Placed on the lip of life, we dangle like frozen rain from shingles, awaiting our time to fall. Touching us only changes us” or “Just being is more than just being enough.” And how about this beautiful insight into love: “The truth is this…Love exists in a perfect state. A flawless existence of perfect paragon. That is…until those involved add their imperfections. We make love less than what it is.” Toward the end of The Generosity of 2am, JC One Cannon tells us: “We are the sands attempting to hold the tide. Trees attempting to own the breeze. We are closed hands trying to clench light.”
I could quote so many more lines, but it would be better if you read it for yourself. This incredible book of poems isn’t like all those poems I once studied in school. It’s better! Thank you, JC One Cannon, for coming out of the darkness and into the light. You speak to, and for, so many of us.