Judy Barisonzi of Verse Wisconsin writes:
"It’s almost a truism to say that reading a book of poems is like embarking on a journey. If you’re lucky, it will be a journey to a special place, and you’ll see that place in a unforgettable way, through language that describes both an outer and an inner landscape. That’s the case with American Bruise by L. Ward Abel (Parallel Press, 2012). The place is small town, red earth Georgia. The time is the present looking back into the past, and the theme is loss. Each town has “a beautiful reverence for something lost” even if it’s only a shuttered fast-food joint:
As if the
Hardee’s hamburger place could ever
come back from the dead out here. (“Towns Like Greenville”)"
JoSelle Vanderhooft of The Pedestal says:
"The beauty of ... images scattered throughout Jonesing for Byzantium is a musical precision. Abel´s images seem to refer to several things at once without losing any of their warmth or originality, just as a single musical note can serve several purposes (as part of a theme, as a continuation of the melodic line, as counterpoint). Beauty can also be found in Abel´s poems in created words (and in words used in unusual contexts) that seemingly spring from nothing but the inspiration of the moment, as is the case with certain jazz riffs... Not surprisingly, the things that make this collection a success are also the things that make any song a success: harmony, musical precision and a commitment to the wants and needs that make us human."
Andrew Taylor, author of Cathedral Poems, states:
"I'm reminded of Raymond Carver’s sublime poetry, which ranks among the very best.
There is a real sense of place within these poems, not only of the poet’s immediate locale, but of the wider world in general. The locations range from London, to the cemeteries of the southern states of the US."
Poet Corey Mesler writes:
"The natural world that Ward Abel inhabits, and gives us generously, is a place of rare beauty, teetering magisterially between the sacred and the mundane.
Taken separately, each poem here is lovely, self-contained, specific, as crisp as the sound of tires on a wet, rural road, and as rooted as his Georgia kudzu. They represent the place ‘where math meets jazz.’ Taken all together, these poems are one long hymn to a universe both welcoming and befuddling. Abel’s is a voice that doesn’t just cry in the wilderness it sings."
Author and editor Beverly Jackson says:
"There is a sadness and yearning in some of the work that seems to reveal itself in places and nature as if the earth itself is a metaphor for man’s own hard realities. In "What Survives Out On Tara Road Corner," it is the kudzu (a viney weed) that survives—and one finds oneself considering the ‘weeds’ of one’s own world. Abel notices things. He observes women prisoners whose van has broken down on the highway. He takes note of Richard Nixon’s quirks, and Van Gogh’s untold travels. Like a jazz riff, he blows hot and cold ‘making sense of the senseless, this ‘soul’s housing,’ the final door.’
There are wonderful surprising images too, the unexpected that delights in poetry. In “Now As Opposed to Then” Abel tells us: ‘But/I have perspective/knowing/what could come,/always in the/back corner/of a church/at the base of/my skull.’ And in “Things Left Behind,” ‘It reminds me of things left behind,/like songs and poems/when the hand/has become potting-soil.’"