on Aug. 15, 2011 :
“The trouble,” O’Hay begins in a poem by the same title:
-- is that most poets write
as if painting tiny tin soldiers
while a symphony plays.
I prefer one who writes
as if amid a mortar attack:
landing squarely on his lap.
Here ticks the heart as well as mind of O’Hay’s poetics. Certainly, he can deliver the breathtaking lyricism and imagery of a whole row of MFA students daubing on “the right words in the right order,” but he also offers something to the not-hooked-on-poetry set who just want the good old-fashioned wallop of a great story told with raspy wit and impeccable timing.
Far From Luck is a marvelous collection that elucidates with wholehearted compassion the hardscrabble lives of marginalized people and slowly eroding glory of America’s natural and urban landscapes. Complementing his themes of transience and hard-earned survival are photographs -- taken by O’Hay himself -- of Philly’s homeless and vagabond community .
Whether through the lens of language or camera, O’Hay stills the world, if only for a moment, enabling us to commit to heart the disarming beauty and depth of even the smallest scraps of the ordinary. And to underscore the walk behind the poetic talk, 20% of profits go to Project H.O.M.E., a non-profit organization providing housing and services for Philadelphia’s homeless population.
(reviewed 14 days after purchase)