“Ode to Post-Virus” on Arlington ARTS transit


The concerns of Said Through Glass by Jona Colson are large and haunting: the mortality of one’s parents, the fraught nature of love and eroticism, and the deep solace of poetic solitude.  Fueling these poems is a search for “something pure-edged and burning” and an unspoken but implicit desire for transcendence. In “Self” the poet asks, “What am I made of?” and answers, in part, “A mid-April notion/ of love under spring and harsh blossom….” These deeply introspective poems present the recognizable outlines of a life as both strange and familiar, like a dream dreamed not once, but many times.  Said Through Glass is an original, unsettling debut from a poet of considerable gifts.

                                                                  — Elizabeth Spires, author of A Memory of the Future

This compelling collection of poems presents the reader with understandings that seem to me to come, not just through glass, but through wavy glass. The wonderful dialogues, always on a slant; the fresh perspective in the image of a grieving son watching as his father’s body is carried “out into the air”; the taste of snow, which is “wood fire, edged with anise and brume”–the poems reimagine for us a world that may be fashioned out of grief, but which is fresh and complicated and moving and, at the same time, clear. The waves make all the difference.

                             –Sidney Wade, author of Bird Book

When one has spent a lifetime reading the poetry of others, there comes a moment when it no longer seems possible that a new voice will emerge from the text. Yet here we come to the poetry of Jona Colson in Said Through Glass where we encounter a unique vision and voice.

                                                            –Myra Sklarew, author of Harmless

As I read Said Through Glass, I think of Anne Carson: “To be running breathlessly, but not yet arrived is…a suspended moment of living hope.” I hear hope in these lines which reach across distances, bridge the familiar and familial, and console in the face of grief. Colson’s offerings provide direction, warnings, and uncanny declarations: “I will stay here until the seaweed takes root and the fossils surface / because the quiet present dissolves like salt / and soon sound will drown us all out.”  This moving debut is as victorious as breathing underwater.

                                                        –Nicole Tong, author of How to Prove a Theory

In Said Through Glass, Jona Colson writes against—and therefore within—the post-Romantic tradition, feeding the first-person lyric through the meat-grinder of 21st century events. Charged with political immediacy and dripping with sensuousness, Said Through Glass displays mastery of genres such as the interview poem, the unflinching self-portrait, the fabulist fable, the elegy and ode. But what keeps the reader invested is Colson’s ability to surprise. Among other dream-like figures, we encounter a woman who transmogrifies into a fish, graveside tulips screaming, and flagstones that resemble the “heads in Picasso paintings—black beetles for eyes.” In this powerful debut, Colson achieves what many mid- or late-career poets only hope for: “to make his imagination,” as Wallace Stevens put it, “become the light in the minds of others.”

–Brian Brodeur, author of Every Hour is Late

Jona Colson’s poems lift the veil from ordinary life to show an eerie silence and strangeness on the other side, a dream-like experience in which we are one with sea-creatures, with bees and flowers. Revealing the peril of our loves & our essential loneliness, this vision is disturbing as well as lovely; we drink in its brilliance the way the poet gazes at his mother after eye surgery: “I felt like I was catching the sun in an intimate moment.” Poet Elizabeth Spires writes, “The concerns of Said Through Glass are large and haunting…. Said Through Glass is an original, unsettling debut from a poet of considerable gifts.”

                                          –Shaileen Beyer, Librarian, Enoch Pratt Free Library