Metes and Bounds by J. Kates

Metes and Bounds by J. Kates

Author: J. Kates
Editor: Katerina Stoykova-Klemer
Illustrator: Simeon Kondev
Publisher: Accents Publishing (Winged Series)
Copyright Date: 2010
Foundational Characters: n/a
Standard Rating: Y
Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars
Available Formats: Paperback
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984411852
ISBN-13: 978-0984411856
Book Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.2 x 0.2 inches
Page Count: 30
Genre: Poetry
Sub-Genre: Landscape, Family, Home, Relationships, Home Life, Interactions
Tags: Poetry, Landscape, Family, Home, Relationships, Home Life, Interactions



This chapbook was chosen by contest judge Dr. Richard Taylor as the winner of the Accents Publishing 2010 Poetry Chapbook Contest.

“Kates’s brief lyrics, in taut lines that employ rhyme, often slant, are full of chainsaws, mauls, and the finished product. These are quintessentially New England poems to savor.”
—Maxine Kumin, Former U.S. Poet Laureate (From the publisher’s website)

About the Author

J. Kates is a poet, literary translator and the president and co-director of Zephyr Press. He received a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry in 1984 and a Translation Project Fellowship in 2006, as well as an Individual Artist Fellowship from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts in 1995. He is the translation editor of Contemporary Russian Poetry, and the editor of In the Grip of Strange Thoughts: Russian Poetry in a New Era. A former president of the American Literary Translators Association, he is also the co-translator of three books of Latin American poetry, and has a chapbook of his own poems, Mappemonde (Oyster River). (From the publisher’s website)

The Revelation

Before reading this little compilation of poems, I had never heard of J. Kates, and there really isn’t much information about him on the internet. All I found was the little About the Author paragraph above (on multiple sites) and a blog entry on However, there is a lot of information about the editor of the book, Katerina Stoykova-Klemer. She has a website, a Facebook page, a MySpace page, a professional profile on LinkedIn, and a Goodreads Quotes page. Interesting contrast.

This little collection of J. Kates’ poems — little only because it is 30 pages long from cover to cover — contains 27 poems that were previously published by various reviews located across the country. The poems themselves reminded me again and again of reading Robert Frost. Not that I am comparing Kates to Frost; I found many parallels in the subject matter used by the two authors. Kates’ subjectmatter is the outdoors: dirt, stones, weather, and relationships between regular people.

Kates’ wording is very snug, tight, and stable. Some poems are very short, like the first poem in the collection, Stakes, which is all of 9 lines long. His use of imagery is extremely enjoyable. For this reason, one of my favorites is called Learning to Shoot.

My father leaned on a fence post

a hard stone’s throw from empty cans

balancing on a rock wall

or hung like Christmas ornaments

against the backdrop of a hill.

The reader can actually see these words in their mind’s eye, knowing the thrill, and possibly a little nervousness, the child narrator is feeling about his first opportunity to shoot a real gun at actual targets. Not all of the poems are concerned with imagery as they are about feeling and emotion. Kates’ poem, Places of Permanent Shade provides a great example of this.

We had come thinking we might fall in love,

having accomplished the preliminaries —

indulged in correspondence,

discovered complimentary signs and fit

our bodies into complex knots of passion.

Acknowledge now it will not be so.

What I liked most about Kates’ writing is his style: very laid back, relaxed. But there is a lot of emotion there, especially love: for the outdoors, for people, places. Very reminiscent of Frost’s style. If you are a fan of Robert Frost’s poetry, you will really enjoy J. Kates as well.

This entry was posted in Family, Home, Home Life, Interactions, J. Kates, Landscape, Poetry, Relationships and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Metes and Bounds by J. Kates

  1. J. Kates says:

    Dear anonymous reviewer—

    Thank you for your kind words. If you’re interested in reading more of my original work, you can find the chapbooks MAPPEMONDE from Oyster River Press and THE OLD TESTAMENT from Cold Hub Press. A full book of poems, THE BRIAR PATCH, will be coming out from Hobblebush Books in fall 2012. And then there are the translations . . .

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