Tuesday, July 29, 2014

3 by Joshua Jarrett: Love Poems for Nobody, Dear Victor, & Diary

Joshua Jarrett is a young Georgian lover of drawing, writing, and other artistic endeavors. His work combines poetry and text with drawings/sketches, thus creating comics/zines/ebooks/something beautiful for others to experience/engage with/treasure and love. His first three releases ("Love Poems for Nobody," "Dear Victor,," & "Diary") delve into the personal and intimate, making his work autobiographically distinct, regardless of whether the subject he addresses is a(n unattainable) lover, a friend, an enemy, or simply himself. All three zines reviewed below can be found and downloaded for free (or a kind donation) at Jarrett's Gumroad account, which can be accessed via Facebook or not. NOTE: While Jarrett's work is extremely intimate/personal/autobiographical, I have chosen for the purposes of this review to treat the narrator/voice in each zine as though he were an entity separate from Joshua Jarrett, the Georgian lover of art.

Love Poems for Nobody (2013):

"Love Poems for Nobody" is definitely for somebody, but as to who that somebody is, the narrator never says. This ambiguity is not done out of coyness or intentional meanness, but rather because these poems and drawings (which certainly and intentionally resemble the doodles of a lovesick person) function as scattered thoughts, images, and half-sentences running within and throughout the internal mind--in this instance, the narrator's. There's a cute, quite musing going on in the narrator's head, a musing which we are very graciously allowed to witness. While starting out as seeming superficial and "cute," the poems/drawings gain emotional weight until, collectively (and) at the end, they summon within any reader whose love has gone unrequited a broken heart in solidarity. In some of the opening poems, the references made to magic and astrology convey a longing deep enough to grasp as straws. Later poems, such as "So" and "Pasttime," mong others, show us actions and attempts made at gaining notice from "Nobody;" romantic notice, and sometimes sexual. As the zine progresses, such longings and attempts give way to reflections about (hinted at) failures/rejections, particularly in "Personal Work" and "Catalogue," the latter ending: "a home with me / Without you." The final poem, "Jasmine Buds," gave me a "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd" vibe, but just because of the title and the accompanying drawing: a leafy vine with flowers. The final poem itself, while being the zine's culmination of the reflective, aloof narrator, signifies that a decision as been reached, though what has been decided is left to speculation. A quick read which will nonetheless leave the reader moved, "Love Poems for Nobody" is an intimate, clear-cut look into the thoughts and feelings, hopes and reflections, of one (and anyone's) everyday life.

Dear Victor, (2013):

"Dear Victor," is a letter to a friend in a spooky disguise. While the letter to "Victor" is not, in itself, spooky, the words, when taken abstractly and coupled with night- and/or Halloween-themed drawings, give the zine a haunted quality. Starting as any letter does, there is the ice-breakers: How are you?; I am fine. Of course the weather is then mentioned, as weather invariably is, but it is at this point that the zine's atmosphere/"mood" changes to something eerie. In Jarrett's zine, like in Bram Stoker's "Dracula," the mood or atmosphere of the outside world (in the park, on the sidewalk, through the graveyard) gets...weird. As "Joshua's" mind wonders during the writing of his letter to "Victor," the thoughts become increasingly influenced by the Halloween/autumn season. The writing gets much more spaced out, each tiny passage given its own drawing; the more spaced out the words, the more the drawings and passages--both separately and together--seem bizarre, spooky; metaphysical. This makes "Dear Victor," all the more compelling. What connection exists between writing a letter to a friend who is away during the autumn? Certainly, there is a lack within "Joshua" while "Victor" is away, a lack which seems to be reflected in the exterior world: leaves die and fall, animals take on darker shades, the moon is more mesmerizing than usual. The final page is a return to reality, but a return informed by knowledge, as though the mental journey of writing the letter has brought consolation, though for whom is left ambiguous. The final words, "I know wherever you are... / you'll always come home," are a reassurance, not for "Victor" alone, but for "Joshua" as well. A letter, a comic, a plea, a spooky journey, "Dear Victor," is a zine for anyone who misses a friend and/or anyone who is alive during autumn.

Diary (2014):

Jarrett's third effort, "Diary," is like his b-sides, which I thought immediately after finishing it for the first time. If "Love Poems for Nobody" and "Dear Victor," are his finished/polished products, "Diary" is the sketches, the drafts, the lead-ups to the previous two. "Diary" is staccato: sometimes the drawings flow and go on for a page or a few, but sometimes they're completely different and just the best of practice drawings. But this is not to imply in any way that "Diary" is an incomplete or unthoughtful work; on the contrary, "Diary" is a rather appropriate name in that the zine works as a segmented view of an individual's life, viz., Joshua's. Some of the drawings and/or text are singular per page/train of thought, like those seen in "love Poems for Nobody," but others are simply cute drawings or practiced profiles. One standout comic/poem, which I will refer to as "HOT," is moody, physically nauseating, much like the character in "HOT" feels...and who had not felt similarly after a night of wicked fun? While some of the poems/lines/thoughts/half-sentences serve almost as the titles of the drawings/comics/sketches in "Diary," the inverse is also true: said 2D art often seems to be the titles for his poems/text. Perhaps a more accurate description, though, would be that Jarrett's drawings act as the fulfillers of his words and visa versa. Interestingly, whereas Jarrett's/the narrator's previous two zines only (maybe) hint at homosexuality, "Diary," in keeping with the theme of an actual diary, is much more open and up front about his sexuality. Jarrett's "Diary" is honest, intimate, inviting; he's not afraid here to admit that he experience self-doubt, fragility. As such, pain can be associated with flowers and unfinished comics sometimes have more to say than if they had been "finished." At times, deep, very nearly philosophical themes/ideas are touched upon for reflection, but then abandoned for continued drawing/writing, for everyday life. "Diary," then, seems to exist at the intersection of one's real, everyday life and one's passion for art; trying to find the connection to retain one's passion while also trying to make sense of one's life (school, work, friendships, family, relationships, and, perhaps most importantly, alone time).

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