I first met J. Bruce Fuller at a science fiction convention many years ago. He was much younger than I, and I remember him having a lot more hair than now. We talked quite a while after one of my panels and we’ve stayed in touch over the years. In fact, we’ve worked together several times on various poetry projects, including my collection of vampire haiku called Wanting the Mouth of a Lover. I’ve been very happy to see him gaining a reputation as a prominent Louisiana and southern poet. From my reading of his work, it’s well deserved. Below, I review his latest chapbook offering.
J. Bruce Fuller. Notes To A Husband. Imaginary Friend Press. 2013. 18 pp. Introduction by Amy Fluery. Edited by Dan Nowak.
J. Bruce Fuller is a Louisiana native who obtained his MFA in poetry from McNeese State University and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Louisiana—Lafayette. He has already been widely published and his latest poetry chapbook, Notes To A Husband, is the subject of this review.
In Fuller’s latest chapbook, he uses the form of notes from a wife to a husband to illustrate the waning of a relationship. There is no heightened poetical language to mask or mythologize the relationship. It is laid out stark on the page, in the common language of humanity. All the ambivalence of such dramas is there. Even while the woman thinks “about old lovers” she washes her husband’s “favorite mug.” She admits her own faults; she sugarcoats nothing.
It’s often claimed that what is left unsaid is at least as important as what is actually said. Notes To A Husband illustrates this perfectly. I’ve seldom been made so keenly aware of what can be revealed “between the lines.” In her introduction to Fuller’s collection, Amy Fluery refers to the “indirection of silence,” and I think that’s a very fine way of describing the depth to be found in these mostly brief poems. They’re like the proverbial house that is much bigger on the inside than it appears on the outside. They expand in your consciousness as you read them.
I highly recommend Notes To A Husband. You can find out more about the collection, or order a copy for yourself, at Imaginary Friend Press: www.imaginaryfriendpress.com