Review of Self-Portrait In Fire
Sara Medinger of Ibbetson Street Press
You don’t have to read these poems more than once to understand them. Parenteau has a very clear style and an engaging voice. His poems read like stories that can often turn out to be both hilarious and sad. And it is the many layers in these poems that make you want to read them again and again.
The voice behind these poems is strong and mature, but looks at life through uncluttered vision. The scenarios come to life because the characters and personalities are magnetic and real. The reader cares because the poet’s words make them worthy; they stand out from the everyday. The interactions described are detailed and specific, obviously stemming from the unique perspective of the poet, but they inspire similar memories or moments in the mind of the reader. Like the following excerpt from "Fool Lying Beside the Shape of an Angel."
Before he could say "good night," she plopped down
on the whited-out front yard.
"Let’s make snow angels," she yelled.
He tossed himself down and started flailing,
ignoring the ice needling his back
until he felt nothing.
Suddenly she sat up, loomed over his body.
"Don’t move," she said.
"This is the way I always want to remember you."
Then she ran into the building.
Maybe you know someone like that. Maybe you are someone like that. But the moment has significance in that romantic, tragicomic sort of way.
Self Portrait In Fire is a very personal collection of poems. But these poems also operate on a more general level. They draw the reader in, showing how people manipulate each other and relate to the world. They are beautifully written, very well thought out and put together in a neat little body of work. I’m glad when I get to hear Chad perform his work, and I’ll look forward to hearing and reading more.