“One-Sentence Journal: Short Poems and Essays from the World at Large” by Chris La Tray
NOTE: This book is a finalist in both the Indigenous Writer and First Book categories.
Life is a series of fragments spliced together in the hope of creating some kind of unified tapestry. Through daily interactions, memories — real or fabricated — and imagination, meaning and understanding are constant destinations sought by all along their individualized proverbial path. Chris La Tray, author of “One-Sentence Journal: Short Poems and Essays from the World at Large,” a finalist in the High Plains Book Awards First Book category, “aim[s] to capture scenes, eavesdrop on other conversations, or just be present with [his] own thoughts” in this unique book that explores the intersections of mental and physical landscapes.
Meditating on themes of pain and beauty, nature and what it means to be human, and the power of language, “One-Sentence Journal” blends poetry and prose to create a phantasmagoria of images that resonate with the reader in a manner that connects us all together. Snapshots of dreams and experience and imagination collide to provide insight and wisdom while asking challenging questions about the known and unknown. Throughout the book, language that is grounded and poetic asks the reader to stop, be introspective, listen to the silence of the place around you, and begin to construct a sense of the world at large.
A man of two worlds — La Tray is a member of the Little Shell tribe of Chippewa Indians and resides outside of Missoula — rural and urban thoughts intermingle, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, to paint a picture of what it means to live in Montana, a place where dreams come true, sometimes at a price; where nature can be both exquisitely beautiful and lethal; where the sun shines both blindingly bright but also allows oppressive darkness to take hold in the long, cold winter months. Short in providing answers, “One-Sentence Journal” prompts a plenitude of questions, and this is the real gift of the book.
Gavin Woltjer is the director of the Billings Public Library.