Poetry News

The Pattern Is the Important Part Here: On Jane Gregory's Yeah No

By Harriet Staff
Jane Gregory, Yeah No, cover

Jane Gregory's new book, Yeah No (The Song Cave, 2018) is reviewed by Tyler Flynn Dorholt for 4 Square Review. "Beginning with poems that read as incremental gestures toward clarity, YEAH NO slowly shucks the detritus of answering and begins to dwell, via longer and more linguistically-concise poems, in the post-answer world of statement," writes Dorholt. More:

The majority of the poems in YEAH NO are titled “PROFICES.” Think of the phrase “yeah no.” Now place a comma after yeah. With a comma, we enter the tone-bending saying, “Yeah, I hear what you’re saying but no, I just can’t.” Or perhaps something like, “here is an affirmation of your (person I’m conversing with) statement or belief (just to please you, converser) but no, I actually do not agree with your sentiment or belief and because I first said yeah, it ought to be a big sign, now that I’m saying no, that you’re, like, completely off track.”

In other words, to know what another person might be saying or doing, even if what he or she is saying or doing is not, well, right (logically, ethically, etc.), is the space of the yeah-with-a-comma-no; and so what, then, is the space of the yeah-without-a-comma-no? Is it a defiant one? Are we to read, when yeah and no are together, and without punctuation, a purity in negation, an open place to proceed in harmonious dichotomy?

Fortunately, Gregory lets us in on the first page of YEAH NO, at the end of the first of the “PROFICES” poems, with the line “everything is a pattern / of yesses and no.” But how much of an “in” is this? And do we need an in? For instance, why a pattern of more than one yes and just one no? Is it that there can often be many yesses before any one no, and the no thus wipes out all the yesses? Or, resoundingly, does a No, give way to a Yes?

I digress, but in digressing I am spun back around to where I started when I began to digress. The pattern is the important part here...

Read the full review right here.


Originally Published: April 10th, 2018