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Reduction Fired

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Jennifer Yeates Camara is a contemporary Canadian poet with a distinctly condensed style, what you might call a reduction of verse.

In this first collection spanning over 25 years, she was inspired by some of the standouts of classical world poetry, including traditional Japanese haiku, Tang Chinese poets Li Po (Li Bai) and Du Fu (Tu Fu), Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore, and even Biblical Hebrew poetry, as well as English and Canadian literature.

While Jennifer enjoys different forms of poetry (including the occasional sonnet), the style mostly seen in Reduction Fired is architectural. As Frank Lloyd Wright said, "'Think simple' as my old master used to say - meaning reduce the whole of its parts into the simplest terms, getting back to first principles."

Here, lines are built only long enough to hold what is needed. Intimate feelings and rich visuals are described in everyday language that is clear and calm. The minimal verse at times is broken where the lines stand alone or the words at those points become different phrases with those before or after.

Many poems use parallels, or rhymes of thought, to keep ideas finely connected. Yet routinely, they take the reader to unexpected endings. Most are short shots - they may be quickly swallowed but keenly felt. And there is ever a rhythm throughout Jennifer's writings.

The events described in these poems are common to many, as they typically involve relationships of one kind or another (like in the popular 'Chalk Drawings'). However, on occasion, Jennifer's poor beginnings, her dear friend's suicide, her spouse's disassociation from the family through addiction and her eventual mental breakdown do reveal themselves in certain poems or phrases.

Jennifer presently works as a paralegal and lives with her son Mohamed in Vancouver, Canada. For more information on Jennifer, her influences and her photos, please visit yeatescamara.com.

85 pages, Paperback

Published May 25, 2021

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About the author

Jennifer Yeates Camara is a poet living in Vancouver, Canada. She is the youngest of 13 children, born to an extremely poor family in Ontario, Canada.

She grew up in an old house that someone had paid her father to haul away, albeit without plumbing as the water was never hooked up! Jennifer's early life in the 70's included an outhouse, a well, and a wood-burning fireplace.

Jennifer's sister Regan, one of several writers in the family, expands on their early life in the essay 'Eau de Toilet: The Fragrance of My Youth' (on regannuqui.com) and in the poignant essay published in Canada's The Globe and Mail in January 2019 entitled 'Elephants in the Classroom, and the Teacher Who Conquered Them.'

Jennifer's parents were both avid readers and often recited poems by memory. Jennifer's mother Barbara went through a productive period with poetry, macrame and pottery. She scrounged enough tuition for ceramic courses at the local College, which included faculty such as Robin Hopper, Roman Bartkiw and Ann Mortimer, all celebrated Canadian potters. The glazes especially intrigued her for their complexity and potential.

At age 9, Jennifer's family still at home moved to the BC coast. Jennifer was encouraged to join a late French immersion program starting from grade 6. It was around that time that Jennifer also started writing her own poetry.

Although Jennifer continued excelling academically, the family's economic situation was still dire, and she turned to poetry to express herself.

Once Jennifer started working, she eagerly frequented local bookstores, where the owners introduced her to poetry from many cultures, including Persia, China, Japan and India.

During that period Jennifer also explored Biblical poetry and its unique aspects, like vivid verbs, concrete words for abstract concepts, short conjunctions for flow and rhymes of thought, and she passed many nights listening to recordings of the psalms.

For more information about Jennifer, please visit yeatescamara.com.

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Displaying 1 - 2 of 2 reviews
Profile Image for Melina Lobo.
708 reviews82 followers
June 9, 2021
No songs, it captivates
with silence of wings
that swim the airs
or fade when stilled
Reduction refers to the pottery method of firing a piece in low oxygen conditions – typically by slowly reducing the oxygen that feeds the kiln’s fire.

Some colours of glazes result from reduction that aren’t achieved in oxidation. It may also be that the fuel–starved fire pulls oxygen from the clay itself, and in doing so draws elements from deep in the clay up to the glaze. This can make it harder to determine the precise outcome of the glazed piece.

Reduction can even change the texture of the clay.
Reduction Fired is a poetry book by Jennifer Yeates Camara where the author shares snippets of experiences from various relationships (not all romantic) as well as other events from her life, for example her friend's suicide. All of the poems are concise and are written in such a way that it tells a tale using minimal words.

The poems have been written over the span of 25 years and show the growth within the author but also how the events of her life has left a scar that is still healing.

The most moving verses are found in the poem titled Michelle, who lost her battle with bi-polar depression.

"They tell me that you feel no more the pain
That often traced your mouth when sweet you smiled.
Your laughing eyes e’er wet with some new trial
Are dry, and all that falls to earth is rain."

There were also poems that I took time to comprehend or still don't understand. This does happen occasionally because only the poet knows what they're experiencing and has the ability to share it, but I do wish I could understand what was trying to be shared a little bit more.

However, overall I did like the collection and maybe if I ponder over it a bit more, I will be able to grasp the message of every poem.
Rated 7.5/10
Melina L.
Profile Image for Reader Views.
2,395 reviews105 followers
July 3, 2021
I want to begin by saying that this has been a very cool period in time when it comes to poetry. On a normal basis, that is a niche quite difficult to fill by authors because it takes 100% emotion to write amazing poetry 100% of the time. Yet, this past week, I was granted the gift of two books of poetry where the authors soared. And that is not an overstatement whatsoever.

This time, “Reduction Fired” with Jennifer Yeates Camara at the wheel of the ship, I sat down and read some of the most intense poems I can remember. They literally brought me physically into the natural world and allowed me the ability to experience everything from the silence, beauty, majesty and sometimes foreboding “scenes” that Mother Nature can bring down all around us; to the deepest words of love, kindness, and caring I can think of. In fact, I don’t believe I’ve read such beautiful verses since Walt Whitman and Robert Frost relayed their absolute talents to the world by placing pen to paper.

The author even begins with a type of education for the reader. She talks about “reduction” and how that word refers to “the pottery method of firing a piece in low oxygen conditions—typically by slowly reducing the oxygen that feeds the kiln’s fire.” She talks about the amazing colors seen with each unique glaze that results from this process. Offering even more information, we learn that “reduction” can even change the texture of the clay. This fits in perfectly with the poetry that follows, because her verse—like the clay in a potter’s world—can twist, turn, surprise, and produce colors that will bring to life in your mind the “ocean of blue-white snow” falling when she leads us along a wintertime trail. We can also see the burst of colors, each different in their own right, when it comes to Autumn, and the loveliness of a Spring day. Even Summer is represented in style, right down to that “milk-swelled cactus in mid-desert” that holds the aloe you need to cover and heal all wounds.

Each poem is a delight, and the glorious, vivid pictures she places at the beginning of each chapter bring a smile to the face and a longing for your favorite season to return as fast as possible so you can once again enjoy it. By interweaving Mother Nature’s talents with her own skill, this author makes relationships, love, and the meaning of life come alive. I, for one, am not only happy I read “Reduction Fired” by Jennifer Yeates Camara, but I also feel a bit honored that I can now include myself in the readers out there who made this book earn (rightfully so) a silver “Readers’ Favorite” award!
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