Omens in the Year of the Ox

Omens in the Year of the Ox - Steven Price

It was hard to resist buying this book at a local publishing fair last month considering how much the woman I spoke to praised this collection. The ratings were also quite high and the title held much promise - I admit to having quite a weakness to astrology- and in general cosmology-related themes.

"Omens in the year of the Ox" was not what I expected but not in an entirely bad way. In fact it proved to have a certain depth that I didn't expect to it, beginning with the structure and general style of the collection. It can be best described by using the analogy of going to a fortune teller and asking to be told your future - the process is long and mystical, with occasional gaps and faults in understanding, but there nonetheless remains a quality of the surreal and otherworldly even to the scenarios that feel like they're mundane. The result is confusion that is still confident that there is something deep inside that holds the proper explanation, though perhaps it might not be accessible just yet.

These poems are very much like that. Some are more straight forward, like the ones which build upon the known characters of Medea, Icarus, and Odysseus. Others serve to create a sense of ambience, such as the series of Chorus poems or the couple of "Curses" poems. Most of the others require a more "off to the side" approach, as they initially come across as something quite common to the point of fooling the reader. These poems take time and several rereads, as well as patience, but they hold promise as well as a cleverness that is worth listening to. Those who were able to tune into that voice right away have certainly spoken to that already, yet for those who might struggle with it this collection will, doubtless, still prove memorable and worthy of revisiting over time, existing like an itch in the conscience that one must attend to.