Published by Math Paper Press
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Is love born from duty, misplaced ideas of nobility or the thirst for dependence? Jerrold Yam’s second poetry collection confronts the very act of creation, wrestling it from family, religion and sexuality—a triptych of forces that bears as much a promise for redemption as a capacity for cruelty and hurt.
“I don’t pretend to know why we are here” is the first line of Jerrold Yam’s second collection, written in the comet tail of his first. Do not expect any answers; between adolescent uncertainty and the fine edge of adulthood, Yam asks the questions we can hardly ask, relates the experiences we would rather ignore and articulates the impressions we never clarify. Do we love our families as much as we say? Why should we feel happy at a wedding? What did those boyish games of childhood really mean? And why should we be ashamed of lust? There is a narrative young people are supposed to accept about growing up, but it involves shutting your eyes to contradictions and the contrary experiences of people around you; Yam’s are fully open, and his gaze is sympathetic. He is young, prolific and smart enough to see that however deeply felt, however lyrical and sad, our own experiences are not – and can never be – the only truth.
– Jay Bernard
The recurring motif then, in this collection, is the dichotomy between wholeness and brokenness, and that of creation and destruction, which the title – Scattered Vertebrae – bears out beautifully. … This second collection of his seems to be a deeply personal project that sears with its brutal honesty.
– The Straits Times
To read Scattered Vertebrae is to join with Yam as he wrestles, like Jacob with the angel at Penuel, and to watch this poet overcome.
– Sidekick Books
This is brave stuff. So often confessional poetry aspires to wear its heart on its sleeve, but Yam calmly removes his clothes and invites the reader to gaze at the nudity of his poetry. He performs this so naturally that possible controversy in the subject matter ceases to be controversy, by virtue of the fact that we have entered the sacred space of the persona’s private intimacies.
– OFZOOS Literary Journal
Jerrold Yam’s second poetry collection was titled with care: like the image of scattered vertebrae, these poems are at once beautiful, dark, and disturbing… Scattered Vertebrae is, at its core, a book of loaded poetry, driven by psychological, emotional, and physical desire, placing current events (the Sierre Coach Crash and other tragedies), turbulent romance, and the church on the same sad but enchanting level… The book (is) a genuine celebration of life’s perplexing lots.
– Cleaver Magazine
Indulgent? Only as much as any creative act is. Ambitious? Yes. This collection is much more than a voice crying out to the dead: it is, to borrow yet another Biblical reference, the voice of a Job calling out to his God, thanking and praising his creator in the midst of his own pain.
– Prick of the Spindle