Absinthe Literary Review, Book Reviews Spring 2002
B O O K   R E V I E W

Winter 2004

below the low-water mark by Ryan Masters

below the low-water mark
Ryan Masters
Pudding House Publications
Johnstown, OH
29 pp. $8.95


Seawater runs through Ryan Masters new chapbook below the low-water mark. Briny images and sea creatures inhabit this trim, cohesive collection of eleven poems, whether the situation involves an actual seafront where a Vietnamese boy gets swept away by a wave or the Sacramento County Detox, where an inmate named K-Dog stands in as a temporary Ahab, abusive and mad, causing surges of his own.   

Masters (if you'll pardon the pun) masters the language here, using subtle rhythmic devices and metaphoric continuity to reel in his carp of truth. The reader is similarly snagged and drawn along.

The only small negatives in this collection are an unrepresentative no-cap title (despite the low-water name, there are no lowercase poems in the collection) and the chapbook's relative brevity; however, if the main complaint against a poet is that you want more of his/her work to read,  he/she is probably doing something right. Recommended. 


(One of the poems in this collection originally appeared in ALR. Click here to read "California.")