01 August 2009

"A Night Without Armor" by Jewel

A Night Without Armor
Jewel
Cover Price: $15.00
Date of Publication: 19 May1998
138 Pages

I'm not a fan of poetry, but I have recently fallen in love with Jewel as an artist. I came upon this collection of poems and decided to take a chance on them based exclusively on the poet. I found in Jewel's poetry the same elements that I have come to appreciate in her songs. Some of the poems could be excerpts from a memoirs; others are the kinds of thoughtful, outside-looking-in perspective on the human condition that make her as much a sociologist as an entertainer.

Jewel's poems are largely stripped of the kind of pretentious symbolism that I find alienating in other poets' work. Instead, she employs an accessible (if deliberate) language. Some poems are ephemeral; others are pregnant with imagery, practically begging to be developed into a longer story. Feminimity is not a dominant theme, but it is certainly present. Rather than repeat any kind of nearly militant doctrine, Jewel explores the issues specific to women simply through her own experiences, as she struggles to make sense of her own identity as a woman. There is a quiet, thoughtful dignity to not only the poet, but the poems as well.

I've read some of the Amazon reviews, and it appears that poetry fans condemn this collection as pedestrian and uninspired. I suspect they reject the very qualities that attract me to these works. Then, I consider the chief objective of the arts--and language--to be the act of conveying ideas. Perhaps I'm just confused because the pro-poetry crowd typically cries as loudly as possible about how poetry is an art form that can disregard any and all conventions; blasting Jewel for a prose-centric style seems to me somewhere between ironic and hypocritical.

Rather than compare Jewel's poems to those of others, I suggest taking them simply for what they are: brief excerpts from the thoughts of one of our generation's most empathic artists. In the intervening decade since this collection was published, however, we have become accustomed to profile updates and micro-blogging on Twitter. I see A Night Without Armor in that vain; these are not full-length stories, but rather specific (if sporadic) observations from Jewel. Form notwithstanding, it sounds like poetry to me.

An abridged audio release accompanied the hardback, read by Jewel herself.

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