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The UFOs of October
A journey through life
By Steven Martinovich
It's the rare poet who can earn praise from figures as diverse as William F. Buckley Jr. and Allen Ginsburg. Pace University English professor Robert Bové has managed that feat with poetry that often manages to combine humour with touching personal insights into life. That's readily apparent in The UFOs of October, a semi-autobiographical cycle of poems and occasional prose that's based on a series of colourful jobs Bové held before entering the world of academia.
The book's title is based on one of those colourful jobs, a short-lived position with a news service in West Virginia, one that sent him to report on UFO sightings in Honduras during the fall of 1978. Along the way he's also ran a cattle farm, fallen in love and helped in the restoration of a home, adventures that provided plenty of fodder for Bové's imagination. Those travels have allowed Bové craft a magnificent cycle of poems that reveal as much about the poet as they do about what he's done in life.
The UFOs of October is essentially a travelogue, a poetic recounting of Bové's journeys, but like all good travelogues it's not merely concerned with where he traveled and what he saw. Bové's poetry spends more time exploring the journey he took through life, something that's just as interesting as the places and things that he interacted with. Grand themes like love and inner growth are explored as much as what it's like to feed 55 head of cattle early in the morning.
Bové's humour and perceptiveness come across in all the poems, even the small intimate entries that spotlight a single concept:
Or a vignette as in the following poem:
There are very few wasted sentences or words in The UFOs of October's poems. Each sentence builds on the one that preceded it, each word obviously chosen to compliment the one that came before it. It is a real pleasure to immerse oneself in the work of someone who obviously cares about words and concepts and how they connect with each other. Bové's reputation for carefully using language is a well deserved one.
The UFOs of October is a marvelous journey through life that is filled with insights and observations. Bové shows a skill in being able to illuminate grand themes and intimate details, often in the same poem, and with carefully constructed language that demonstrates a true appreciation and talent for the delicate ballet of words that good poetry demands. Bové's poems and prose are a testament to the fact that life can be an adventure, whether it's chasing UFOs or falling in love.
Steven Martinovich is a freelance writer in Sudbury, Ontario.
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