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It's Not Magic

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Snapshots of youth, displayed with verve and sparkling clarity, in a new collection of poems that "dazzles with its linguistic sleight of hand" (Richard Blanco). From jaunts through New York subways, to a Cincinnati Waffle House, to a chance encounter with one's future life partner, Sands writes in turns autobiographically and imaginatively, drawing on voices from his priva Snapshots of youth, displayed with verve and sparkling clarity, in a new collection of poems that "dazzles with its linguistic sleight of hand" (Richard Blanco). From jaunts through New York subways, to a Cincinnati Waffle House, to a chance encounter with one's future life partner, Sands writes in turns autobiographically and imaginatively, drawing on voices from his private world and the public sphere to create an urgent portrait of youth that is almost rebellious in its sheer, persistent joy. Nostalgic and vivid, this collection of poems is written reverie. Selected by Richard Blanco, Jon Sands is the winner of the 2018 National Poetry Series.


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Snapshots of youth, displayed with verve and sparkling clarity, in a new collection of poems that "dazzles with its linguistic sleight of hand" (Richard Blanco). From jaunts through New York subways, to a Cincinnati Waffle House, to a chance encounter with one's future life partner, Sands writes in turns autobiographically and imaginatively, drawing on voices from his priva Snapshots of youth, displayed with verve and sparkling clarity, in a new collection of poems that "dazzles with its linguistic sleight of hand" (Richard Blanco). From jaunts through New York subways, to a Cincinnati Waffle House, to a chance encounter with one's future life partner, Sands writes in turns autobiographically and imaginatively, drawing on voices from his private world and the public sphere to create an urgent portrait of youth that is almost rebellious in its sheer, persistent joy. Nostalgic and vivid, this collection of poems is written reverie. Selected by Richard Blanco, Jon Sands is the winner of the 2018 National Poetry Series.

30 review for It's Not Magic

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bernie Gourley

    This is a collection of (mostly) prose and free verse poetry. The content of the poems is autobiographical in nature. Sands was one of five winners of the 2018 National Poetry Series award, winning with this title. My own impression of “It’s Not Magic,” is that it started stronger than it finished. I can’t say whether that was because it’s truly more brilliant up front, or whether I just tired of its approach and tone. If you’re accustomed to poetry which shows you the universe larger and louder This is a collection of (mostly) prose and free verse poetry. The content of the poems is autobiographical in nature. Sands was one of five winners of the 2018 National Poetry Series award, winning with this title. My own impression of “It’s Not Magic,” is that it started stronger than it finished. I can’t say whether that was because it’s truly more brilliant up front, or whether I just tired of its approach and tone. If you’re accustomed to poetry which shows you the universe larger and louder than life, and in which one has to strain to glimpse the poet, that’s not what you’ll find here. This is a kid jotting about things that happened in his life and insights he’s had. I credit the work that it’s not so angsty that it takes one out on the ledge. It’s cleverly cynical in places, and in places it’s reminiscent of Beat poetry. I don’t know how useful recommendations are for this type of work. I think some will love it, and for others it will be just, “meh!” Hopefully, I’ve given some insight into which category you are likely to fall, but – if not – I understand.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Susan The Book Dragon Campton

    Welcome to Whimsical Wednesday my fellow Book Dragons. Today I bring you not a Gem, but a semi-precious stone. It is cloudy and discolored. Dark, almost black, but nearer a deep blue. It gives off a feeling of loneliness and one doesn’t want to hold it long. The creator is Jon Sands. It is a memoir and yet, it is not. The poems are alright, some are pretty good. One, more of an essay, is very good. But for the most part I could not sink my teeth nor claws into these because nearly everyone contai Welcome to Whimsical Wednesday my fellow Book Dragons. Today I bring you not a Gem, but a semi-precious stone. It is cloudy and discolored. Dark, almost black, but nearer a deep blue. It gives off a feeling of loneliness and one doesn’t want to hold it long. The creator is Jon Sands. It is a memoir and yet, it is not. The poems are alright, some are pretty good. One, more of an essay, is very good. But for the most part I could not sink my teeth nor claws into these because nearly everyone contains an expletive. This, for me, is not poetry. Poetry for me, must touch my heart, my soul, it must, on some level connect with the every spirit on some level. This book fails to achieve that for me. I believe there is a time and place for strong language. It may be to give emphasis, to strike a chord where no other word would do the same. When strong language is constantly cast about, it becomes boring. Strong language for shock value shows me a vocabulary that is wanting. I was less than impressed and as I have now made that clear. Let me talk about the one poem/essay I did like. It is called ‘Above Ground’ and it is about a message the author sent on Facebook to a girl he’d had an embarrassing incident with when both were in their early teens. He’d wanted to apologize and get it out in the open. It had bothered him all those years. He is surprised by her reaction. Her kindness about it, the fact that had they both been honest and not afraid of what other people thought, they might have been able to have forged a relationship or at the least, a friendship. I loved it’s honesty and the way it shows how people change and grow over time. The way the things we think as teens will be the end of the world are not, in the grand scheme of things that important at all. If you are from the Cincinnati area, as the author was growing up, you may find this interesting as he mentions many of the places, streets and happenings there in the late 80’s through the late 90’s. Until tomorrow, I remain, your humble Book Dragon, Drakon T. Longwitten I received a copy of this book from Beacon Press through a Goodreads giveaway.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    ‪It seems to me that these poems taken together are about admitting how and why you’ve been wrong, and still choosing to love yourself. How making that choice is, indeed, the way you do better. I liked this book quite a bit.‬

  4. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Kappes

    ‘It’s not Magic’ is a book of poetry by Jon Sands, a winner of the National Poetry Series in 2018. He also once wrote a poem for Cisco, the technology company, about healthcare-- which makes me laugh, knowing that technology is a world very lacking in poetry. The collection acts as part-memoir and is unapologetically modern while allowing nostalgia to seep through the cracks. My favorites include “Decoded”, two poems in one, twisted side by side through slanting opposites, highlighting the disti ‘It’s not Magic’ is a book of poetry by Jon Sands, a winner of the National Poetry Series in 2018. He also once wrote a poem for Cisco, the technology company, about healthcare-- which makes me laugh, knowing that technology is a world very lacking in poetry. The collection acts as part-memoir and is unapologetically modern while allowing nostalgia to seep through the cracks. My favorites include “Decoded”, two poems in one, twisted side by side through slanting opposites, highlighting the distinct differences between the lives of White and Black in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death. “Origin Story: 1956” tells the story of his mother Kathy, of the struggle for parent’s love and attention in a large family. It’s a stark contrast to “Origin Story: 1999” which follows immediately after- 1956 is formated neatly, whereas 1999 is freeform, with no formatting to the page at all-- just a stream of conscious memories. 1956 centers on family, loss, and independence, whereas 1999 is full of the world as a whole- of school teams and teenagers in basements and insults and insecurities. “When I see Andre 3000 Buying Bananas in Trader Joes” makes me laugh- but it’s an awkward kind of laugh. In it we see how we see celebrities, but don’t view them as humans with the same fatal flaws as us. He’s Andre 3000, but he still buys bananas at Trader Joes, and he still feels the same painful insecurity that we do. It’s poignant. I’m not a poetry expert- but I think that speaks volumes in the fact that It’s not Magic’s accessibility. It can be picked up by anyone, and doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. It’s easy to see why Jon Sands is so cherished in his field- his poetry invokes relatable feelings, reflect real people and real hardships, even when it might not be easy to do so. Anyone can relate.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Danni Faith

    I'm excited for this book to be out in the world. Sands has written a collection that is full of music, pizzazz, and heart. His heart is smeared across the pages, and I cherish him sharing his world with me. I'm excited for this book to be out in the world. Sands has written a collection that is full of music, pizzazz, and heart. His heart is smeared across the pages, and I cherish him sharing his world with me.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Courtney LeBlanc

    While it may seem odd, the best word I can use to describe this book is fun. That's not to say it doesn't cover serious topics - love, friendship, family, childhood, growing up, etc. - but it does it in a way that never feels heavy or drags the reader down. But this also meant I wasn't pulled into the poems as much as I would have liked. from Internet as a Concept is Not Inspiring: "Nothing in my family can resist this child. All we do / is fall apart. I'm trying to recognize not just the beauty While it may seem odd, the best word I can use to describe this book is fun. That's not to say it doesn't cover serious topics - love, friendship, family, childhood, growing up, etc. - but it does it in a way that never feels heavy or drags the reader down. But this also meant I wasn't pulled into the poems as much as I would have liked. from Internet as a Concept is Not Inspiring: "Nothing in my family can resist this child. All we do / is fall apart. I'm trying to recognize not just the beauty // of the gift, but the sender." from Love Spell: "80% of relationships / end in other relationships. / I don't mean to build the cart / before horses even live here // but this is how my brain works"

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dave

  8. 4 out of 5

    Steven Willett

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

  10. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

  11. 4 out of 5

    Arya Shahi

  12. 4 out of 5

    Erik Torenberg

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bryant

  14. 5 out of 5

    Hilary Lee

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lizzie

  16. 4 out of 5

    SaraEve

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nina Maness

  18. 4 out of 5

    Spencer Hendrixson

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bethany Whinnem

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carol

  21. 5 out of 5

    Licia

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Innes

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amy Dupcak

  24. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Morrison

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Barton

  26. 5 out of 5

    Khy

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Alston

  29. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bernard F. Roderick Library Fairhaven High School

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