Broken and Reset: Selected Poems 1966 to 2006
V.B. Price

Review by Samantha Scott
Daily Lobo August 21, 2007

A poet's life can be measured by the chronology of his verse.

Albuquerque Tribune columnist V.B. Price just released a poetic compendium, spanning 40 years of his work.

Published by UNM Press, Broken and Reset brings to light the poetic voice of a local author well-known for his journalistic endeavors. This grouping of selected poems allows the reader intimate knowledge of Price's inner life and creative processes.

In the introduction, Price reveals his feelings about his occupations: "I was making my living as a reporter, columnist, nonfiction writer, editor, novelist, and teacher," he writes. "Both making poems and making a living have allowed me to pursue my real occupation of trying to repair my ignorance."

Grouped as later, middle, early and Christmas poems, Broken and Reset offers a poetic time line, arranged in the reverse of chronological order. In the first section, "Later Poems: 2006-1995," Price seems to draw inspiration from Greek mythology, devoting singular poems to each of the pantheon. In Price's lexicon, Apollo is known as "God of Rules," Dionysus the "Player, hider, healer," and Hera the "Great Queen of the marriage torture farce." Price uses these mythic definitions to describe human nature in all of its guises, in "the Holy Mess we thrive in." Following these odes to the divine, Price writes about 9/11 and its aftermath, using poetry as a vehicle to steer his grief toward understanding.

In the second section, "Middle Poems: 1994-1978," Price reflects and muses on the 7 Deadly Sins and explores a powerful relationship with Chaco Canyon. Though similar in simple construction and meter to his later work, the poems from this period reflect the author's fascination with the mystic Earth and sky and his interaction with "geographies of breath." Here, Price uses language to transform and transcend the past, present and future.

In the third section, "Christmas Poems," Price gathers together poems that celebrate the season and are also used as a jump-off point to explore and examine the feelings he associates with this yearly passage. The author begins this section with the workman-like observations found in "Solstice": "Perfect / clear light / star mind / chorus / eye star / joyous / pulse light / clear / nerve star / pulse sight / heart bright / chorus / joyous joyous / all one / light".

The simplicity of his language distills profound truths from his experience. Likewise, Price uses his observational powers to come to terms with the death of his mother, sharing a poem with readers that came from Christmas 1999. The work, called "Five Complicities," focuses on the "last Christmas Day of her life." Price writes keenly and eloquently about this event, positing, "Our lives are not problems we cannot solve."

In this section of the book, Price's attention to memory and the details of Christmastime make for illuminating reading.

In the fourth section, "Early Poems: 1977-1965," Price exposes his roots as a poet, speaking of his heroes and inspirations in a longer meter more descriptive and definitive than the work that followed, indicating the places he will go and the people who will help him travel there in the years to come.

Thanks to the Daily Lobo remote
August 21, 2007

Broken and Reset is published by UNM Press remote