A Lesson in Character Creation

by Ariel Beynon

Jim Nason begins by introducing the three main characters in his latest poetry collection, Rooster, Dog, Crow, all of whom embody individuals who appear in the second half of the narrative living on the streets.

As he starts to read, the characters cease to be as transparent.  They begin to gain personalities. With the description of them performing for an audience, we are able to understand one way they have learnt to survive.  Their environment starts to take form as well. “Crow soars of Yonge Street cars, / moon-lit Dog begging in-front of Taco Bell. / Crow stares at the asphalt—blood, her blood / a shadow-self on tar—angel of ash, angel of the confusion, / she flies over the city—its hurtful mix”.

The pleasure of Nason’s poetry begins and revolves around his ability to create multifaceted characters, people who suffer, who each have their own difficulties (Dog’s paranoia for example) and who still try to live despite it all. Not just survive, but live their life. The decision to include sketches of Dog, Crow, and Rooster deepens our understanding of them while mirroring the complexity of the characters.  The syntax and structure help streamline the visuals and characters, balancing and regulating when the landscape or the characters’ personalities overshadow each other.

What Nason offers us as readers are complex characters to fall in love with, show compassion for, and ultimately learn something from.

From the ‘Nooner’ on September 27, 2018