Your Face Tomorrow by John Stahle
First collection of poems by John Stahle, whose work appears in the gay lit/art journal "Ganymede." Included are two short stories from which poems were distilled. Illustrated throughout by fine art photographs.
I’ve had the privilege of reading several of Stahle’s works included in volumes of writing and poetry from "Ganymede" and collections of his individual work. Each time is a delight as the writing is filled with emotion and introspection. His short stories especially seem to share an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience in such a way the reader comes away better. His poetry tends to be more restrained and clean, offering a bare minimum of words with the most impact. Once again though the collection remains evocative and thought provoking accompanied by stunning photography. "Your Face Tomorrow" is a successful grouping with a few re-published favorites.
This collection offers seven poems and two short stories with the poems based off them, which both have also been published elsewhere. There are also thirteen incredible photographs included before and after the poetry, lending visual weight and thought to the pieces. Although I’d read the two short stories and their accompanying poems before, they are wonderful to revisit. The sharp honesty combined with clean writing offers a glimpse into the relationships of older men with much younger men. The dichotomy is both sad and philosophical as the ending is prescribed before the beginning yet the experience still worthwhile.
This seems to be a theme running among the collection as the content is crisp and minimal, yet offering a wealth of interpretation and possibility. I wouldn’t pretend to understand everything Stahle is trying to convey with his writing, yet the sparse prose seems to allow for each person to take away something different. The style of writing and arrangement is pleasing to read and without a pretentious feeling often accompanying poetry. Instead the poems seem to share a glimpse into life, an insight into heartbreak, a thought on society ideals.
The theme of individuality seems prominent and blends very well with the stunning photography. There is nothing uptight or routine about these pictures, instead conveying movement and life as if briefly captured. The black and white images playing with light and shadow in clever ways are as much a part of the collection as the written words. These photographs seem to convey a story all of their own, blending with the poetry to deliver something thought provoking.
I’m not an expert but there is just something about Stahle’s collections of writing and photography that manages to be both understandable and a total enigma. While I may be off the mark of what he’s trying to convey, I can say that this particular collection is well written and engrossing with a lasting impact. Fans and newcomers alike should enjoy this offering.
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