Bill Jones, At Sunset, Facing East: A Memoir in Poetry Reviewed by Hannah Mathwich

Bill Jones, At Sunset, Facing East: A Memoir in Poetry. Apprentice House, 2016, ISBN: 978-1-62720-125-4, 109 pages. Price $11.99.

At Sunset, Facing East is a beautifully crafted collection of poems that invites the reader into the life of Bill Jones. The poems narrate Jones’ journey through the world, following him from childhood into retirement. There is a poem for everyone throughout this narration, a piece that every individual can identify with. Bill Jones created a collection of nostalgia for youth and anticipation of the future. He manages to take the audience through chilling nuances of childhood trauma.

There are four sections of the book: “1951-1969,” “1970-2015,” “Traveling,” and “Dreams.” It opens with a poem, Terrapin, that tackles the somewhat discombobulated sensation that occurs as one recollects on vague childhood memories. We see Jones go through the thrill of childhood discovery as he recollects the awe-inspiring experience of finding a terrapin. It begins with a:

A dark ghost-thing,
It swam out of the seagrass
Beneath the surface of the shallow water-
A shadow, black,
Large as a trashcan lid.

This is followed by a description of realizing what this shadow was, and calling out to his uninterested parents. The poem simply closes with:


After reading just the first poem I felt the tugs of nostalgia. Jones tackles much more than muddied memories. Jones tackles some melancholy topics that are an unfortunate part of living. As a granddaughter of those with Dementia, My Mother, Eighty-Nine brought back past sorrows. The poem closes with the stanza:

So I shouldn’t have been surprised
when at the end of our last visit
after a nice talk, mostly about her memories
she asked me who I was.

Bill Jones’ book At Sunset, Facing East: A Memoir in poetry takes the reader down a windy path of reminiscence. I thoroughly enjoyed turning the pages of this Memoir.

© Bill Jones and Hannah D. Mathwich

Bill Jones is a Baltimore based poet and teacher. He lives with his wife, Jane Croghan Jones in the city, and published At Sunset, Facing East: A Memoir in Poetry in 2016. His work has been featured in California quarterly, The Connecticut River, Loch Raven Review, and many other publications.

Hannah Mathwich is a student, aspiring writer, and intern at the Loch Raven Review. She is pursuing a degree in English and Psychology at University of Maryland Baltimore County. Hannah Mathwich is expecting to graduate May 2017.

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