Review by Kristin Berkey-Abbott
A RANDOM CENSUS OF SOULS
by Samuel Western
Daniel & Daniel Publishers
P.O. Box 2790
McKinleyville, CA 95519
2009, 80 pp., $14.00
When I first saw the title of Samuel Western’s book of poems, I couldn’t resist. A Random Census of Souls: I expected poems that had interesting images and references back to medieval times, perhaps. Or maybe modern ideas of random sampling fused with theological ideas about the soul. I wasn’t expecting to completely rethink the way I approached prose poems.
Right on the cover, the book declares itself as a collection of prose poems. I’m used to thinking of prose poems as short, paragraph-sized chunks of texts, but Western has divided his prose poems into stanzas. It’s a technique that works, but to be honest, some of these prose poems also seem to have deliberative line breaks. Are these poems all prose poems, as the declaration on the cover would suggest?