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Winter 2007, vol 5 no 4

The Unworn Necklace
by Roberta Beary
A Review by Johnye Strickland


Another attractive book produced by Snapshot Press and edited by John Barlow, The Unworn Necklace contains haiku and senryu in the author's first individual collection.

Impressively presented one poem to a page, the surrounding white space invites the reader to engage more fully with each poem before moving on to the next, a reading experience I find more appealing as the years slip by.

If you ever have the opportunity to hear Roberta Beary read her poems personally, by all means take it. She is one of the best contemporary poetry readers I have had the privilege of hearing. And having seen her in action, I can now envision her on stage performing each of the poems in this book, thus adding to my own pleasure in reading them time and again.

Beary is a careful observer, especially adept at noting details of experience and nuances of meaning. For example:

custody hearing
seeing his arms cross
i uncross mine (p. 40)

harvest moon
the long pull
of faraway children (65)

Her sense of juxtaposition is often striking, in my opinion:

far from home
a red-tailed hawk
. . . forgiving my father (p. 77)

The poems that fall on the line between haiku and senryu are usually quite strong.
For example:

morning fog
my father asks me
who i am (p. 68)

Perhaps her greatest strength shows up in the poems I think of as zingers. My favorite in this collection is this one:

family picnic
the new wife's rump
bigger than mine (p. 43)

The title poem of the book invites the reader to engage with the mystery for him/herself. Read aloud, the pace and timing add to the engagement:

all day long
i feel its weight
the unworn necklace

This is a book I can recommend highly. It would make a good Christmas gift for the adult poetry lover, and is worthy of study by the novice trying to learn the ins and outs of haiku and senryu.

I would like to suggest that the poet and publisher consider producing a CD of her reading her own poems. I would like to have one, and I have several people on my gift list who would be appropriate recipients as well.


The Unworn Necklace
by Roberta Beary
Haiku and Senryu
Edited by John Barlow
Snapshot Press (2007)
Soft cover; Perfect bound
80 pages; 5" x 7 "
Cover design by Molomo
Cover Photograph by Michael Kempf
Author Photograph by Dave Russo
UK 7.99
US $14.00
Canada $17.00
Snapshot Press
PO Box 132
Waterloo, Liverpool L22 8WZ
Great Britain
ISBN 978-1-903543-22-1