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A Night Without Armor Paperback – Deckle Edge, August 3, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Singer/songwriter Jewel Kilcher has been writing since she was a child. In this 87-poem collection, she reveals herself as an accomplished free-verse poet, alternately witty and serious, writing about true love, second thoughts, and broken relationships. Some of her poems are postcards from her travels, describing scenes and the people she meets in Las Vegas; Seattle; Taipei, Taiwan; and Hawaii. She also writes about Alaska, and it's evident in her voice that she misses the place where she was raised. The most poignant pieces are the ones about personal loneliness in the midst of popular acclaim, as in "Taipei 2": "I am told I am adored by millions--but no one calls." A must for every Jewel fan, this collection is especially rich in what Jewel calls "songs for love lost and love yet to come." Listen to Jewel read "As a Child I Walked." Visit our audio help page for more information. (Running time: 70 minutes, 1 CD) --C.B. Delaney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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For people who don't regularly follow MTV (which unfortunately includes most of those who listen to poetry), Jewel will seem to have sprung up out of nowhere. But the 23-year-old Alaska native has four albums to her credit and several web sites. A veteran of the coffee-house scene around San Diego, she brings to mind those New York spots of the late 1950s, where Dylan Thomas played and where there was an open poetry mike. Moreover, Jewel's poems are reasonably good. Sure, there are too many prepositions and some cliched images; an attempt to be philosophical is laughable; and many "poems" are nothing more than fragments. But a lot of the material is also straightforward and deeply honest, e.g., "I am told I am adored by millions, but no one calls." Certainly, she's as good as Leonard Cohen and deserves serious attention from poetry lovers. Released simultaneously as a book, CD, and cassette.?Rochelle Ratner, formerly with "Soho Weekly News," New York
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: It Books; Reprint edition (August 3, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061073628
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061073625
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (430 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #742,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Boyd on January 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
I am a poet, with work published in places like Amelia and Impetus. And for 6 years, I published a poetry magazine called Whisper. I read tens of thousands of poems, from many of the same people who are here, reviewing Jewel's work harshly. I spend my time talking about Lifshin or Lewis or Cummings with other poets, go to coffee shops for poetry reading now and then, and even hosted a few poetry slams. I tell you that for two reasons: first, to help you decide if I speak with any authority; and second, because I am going to commit a mutiny.
I will not join the chorus of poets in protest here. Saying "this isn't poetry!" over and over again won't make it true. Getting all bent out of shape over how Jewel is making poetry available to (gasp) the masses is ridiculous. I feel like I'm watching the punk scene happen all over again -- every time someone had a success, the fans screamed "sell out!" My, how we love to topple those on top.
My loyalty is not to the poets, but to poetry. My loyalty is not to some exclusionary club of latte-sucking introverts, full of pretense, but to language itself. And that is why I must break ranks and say this book is just what the world of poetry needed. Poetry may be "language molded into magnificent text" and many other things, such as meter and rhyme -- but the single most important trait of poetry is that it is relevant. It affects you in a way that is deep and impactful. And Jewel's poetry does exactly that, with so many memorable poems and vivid images filling my head that I eager to read her book again.
When reviewers complain that Jewel ought to read some poets before she publishes her own work, they betray their own failure to read her work.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 26, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I truly enjoyed Jewel's book. Granted, some of her poetry is simple, but poetry does not have to be complex and contain hidden meanings to be good. Jewel is an honest writer who bares her soul and her feelings. Like others who have bashed her book, I too, have read a great deal of poetry. I have read Yeats, Eliot, Auden, and I am taking an entire course on Shakespeare alone. All of these writers are amazingly talented, but at the same time so is Jewel. She may not be on the same level as the "greats" but she has been able to inspire many people, not all of whom are a bunch of "teeny-boppers". I think that her poetry is beautiful, straightforward, and honest. I also believe that many people have used this review to bash Jewel because they just don't like her, not because of her poetry. Poetry is a connection between thoughts, the soul, pen, and paper...who are we to judge???
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 23, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Please! How terribly naive and gushing this all is. I can't recall a more superficial book--save for maybe Danielle Steel's gooey foray into poetry a few years back. It's disheartening to see even the shrouded world of poetry is not safe from star power and the sellability of glamour and physical beauty. No one can possibly argue that if Jewel were not a celebrity this book would *ever* have been published. The poems brazenly reflect this--they are immature (and in that sense I mean not formed, rounded, or filled out), trite, and laden with every high school diary cliche I can possibly imagine. Her word useage is light and cutsey, parsed with terribly clunky attempts at intellectual posturing: words like "taciturn" and "disillusionment" serve only to disrupt whatever melodic flow she might have found in the text. What is completely lacking in the verses is strength. Her words have no weight, no ballast. Anyone can write about love and passion and trust--only the best of poets can magnify these things with strength and poise. Jewel's words are flat and tired, overused and overwrought. What this book needs is restraint and time--give her ten or fifteen years and perhaps by then she'll have worked out everything to a point where she can bring to the text something new and worth our time. Until then, pass this one (and Ethan Hawk's and every other celebrity attempt) for something with soul.
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46 of 61 people found the following review helpful By D. Mok on January 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
Walt Whitman, what have you wrought upon us?

The advent of free verse was like literary punk music: While a potentially liberating influence which could serve to wrest artistic expression from the elite, it also leveled the playing field to such an extent that almost anybody putting words into a "poetic" arrangement could now call his/her work "poetry".

I liked Jewel's early music a lot; I'd bought her record Pieces of You a whole year before "You Were Meant for Me" became a hit, before that song made a little neo-folk album (which had many tracks recorded live, acoustically) into a sales juggernaut. But even when I was listening to her songs, I never considered Jewel to be much of a lyricist. Her chief strengths were really melody, a simple guitar style, and her voice. Jewel's lyrics were almost always direct expressions of what she believes -- no hidden meanings, no craft, and almost never any surprising thoughts (after all, she was 20).

On her poetry, the problem burns right through. Stripped of the melodies at which she excelled, her writing is awfully sappy, worthy of high-school student scribbles. And it reads without much verbal (ie. poetic) flow. Have the layout artist put the verses and stanzas back together, and it sounds like undoctored prose. What use is the term "poetry" if it's just prose broken up? Sometimes Jewel does come up with interesting imagery, but if her artistic expression is all image and no verbal artistry, then she should be doing photography or film work, not poetry.

Young readers with little experience reading poetry may respond to the artlessness of it and embrace the direct sentiments of this writing. But to them I would suggest: Write your own poetry, get your friends to do the same, and read one another's works.
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