Jogging with the Great Ray Charles

August 19, 2017
Jogging with the Great Ray Charles Book Cover Jogging with the Great Ray Charles
Kenneth Sherman
ECW Press
October 11th, 2016

A poetic masterclass from a writer at the height of his craft 

Kenneth Sherman’s work has always displayed a vibrant lyricism, so it’s no surprise that his powerful new collection contains a number of poems with musical motifs. In such pieces as “Clarinet,” “Transistor Sister,” and the book’s titular poem, Sherman ponders our human transience while searching for “a voice to stand time’s test.” Sherman also confronts health concerns in a language that is Shaker-plain. The book concludes with the sombre, compassionate, and truly remarkable seven-part “Kingdom,” a meditation on the plight of the dispossessed.

In a Globe and Mail review of The Well: New and Selected Poems, Fraser Sutherland notes, “Sherman always seems to be listening to the voice of Canadian soil and landscape at the same time as he is attentive to the great European metaphysical theme of the soul in conflict with the world and time.” So it is with Jogging with the Great Ray Charles. Sherman has also included three brilliant translations of Yiddish poets that appeared in the Malahat Review’s “At Home in Translation” issue.

(via Goodreads)


My second #ARCAugust review is actually for a book I read last year and never managed to post a review for… Honestly, that was a complete oversight on my part and totally not normal. Corrected now! Whew.


Kenneth Sherman is a Canadian poet. He’s been on my radar for a few months now, and when a copy of his newest book was available to request on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance to better understand his words. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite turn out how I had hoped they would…

You see, I’m not much of a poet myself. I don’t want to be a poet in the writing sense, but I do in the consumption sense. I want to better understand the words poets use, the world they view and experience the beauty of poetry in general. Gretchen @ Chic Nerd Reads has been inspiring me with her poetry lately. Plus, I recently re-read A Comedy of Errors and I recently saw A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed live. Any form of absorbing Shakespeare reminds me that when I was a child I adored poetry. So, why have I drifted? It was time to explore.

There are so many things I adore about this book of poems. First, as a musician, I greatly appreciate the poems with musical motifs. I can strongly relate to them, and I recognize the pull of music in the words of poems– just as mentioned in the title poem. I appreciate the breadth of topics, as well. Sherman addresses sickness, mentorship, life on the water, and the life of the dispossessed. Each poem follows one another with little pause, sliding the ideas together.

However, there lies my greatest problem. I received an ARC eBook for this review– and honestly, it’s a mess. Or, I think it is? It’s hard to tell with poetry. But I’m pretty sure this one is a wreck. The poems slide together literally seamlessly, meaning I don’t know where one poem ends and another begins. This led to a constant struggle. Not even line breaks or titles in most cases. I had to copy down the table of contents and compare it to the text as I read. That helped me ID changes in poems, but still…

Sadly, this was a less than pleasurable experience due to the formatting issues. Once I was able to separate out all the lines of a single poem, I read them repeatedly to myself and quite enjoyed it. But so much effort was required to read the entire book, I should have just given up. The only reason this book gets more than 1 star is due to the fact I easily fell in love with the words I could separate out.

That said, I am also super excited to be publishing a review for my first indie publisher! This is my first experience with formatting issues in ARCs, and I don’t know if this is something I can expect by publishing house or if this it was just a random fluke? I reached out to the publisher, but I heard nothing. I hope they have corrected this in the paperback!

While this didn’t fit what I was looking for, I feel like the paperback might be a better fit. Perhaps I’ll seek it out someday? Who knows. I do know I won’t give up on poetry yet. Gretchen wouldn’t like that much! 😀

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and ECW Press in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinions of this book. Check out ECW Press on their website for more information. Kenneth Sherman does not have a website of his own, but you can learn more about him here

What do you think?

  • Do you read poetry? Why or why not?
  • Have formatting errors ever ruined a book for you? If so, what were the errors and how did it ruin the book?
  • Have you ever run into formatting issues with NetGalley books?  Tell your stories below!


  • KrystiYAandWine August 19, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    I haven’t read a lot of poetry honestly. I did read some in college, but it was mostly just classics, not a lot of modern poetry. I struggle with most modern poetry. A lot of it is pretty abstract, and I just have a hard time connecting with it. I probably just haven’t discovered the right poetry for me though. Do you have recommendations?

    I don’t usually encounter a lot of formatting issues in ARCs. There’s usually a handful of typos and whatnot, but that’s not surprising. This one sounds like it was more than that. But hooray for your first review for an indie pub, even if it wasn’t your favorite book.

    • Jackie B August 21, 2017 at 9:02 am

      That’s totally fair. I wouldn’t have started reading poetry if it wasn’t for Gretchen @ ChicNerdReads, I wouldn’t be reading poetry at all. I discovered her blog and fell in love with her occasional poetry posts. She’s so lucky to have her first book of poems published, too! I’d definitely recommend you checking out love, and you. Her poems are accessible, brief, and beautiful. They really move me. In fact, I am loooong overdue to review that poetry book! O_o #Slacker Anyway, let me know what you think, and I can point you towards some other awesome new poetry books.

      I’m so glad you don’t encounter a lot of formatting issues! This one was really bad. In fact, another #ARCAugust book I’m reading is ALSO a formatting disaster. In both cases, however, these are books written in verse instead of prose. Perhaps it’s something to do with the eBook format they’ve chosen? I might actually have to DNF this second book… it’s impossible to read.

      • KrystiYAandWine August 21, 2017 at 1:21 pm

        I do follow Gretchen, so I’ve seen her poems, and they are beuatiful. Those are the only ones I’ve read recently though. I’m always open for recs! Whether or not I get to them in a timely manner is another story, but I’d love to see which ones you like.

        That’s too bad! It may be the publishers too. I typically don’t read a lot of ARCs from small print presses though, so time/budget may also play a role in all of that. I don’t know.

        • Jackie B August 23, 2017 at 9:43 am

          Yes, I definitely understand about reading things in a timely manner. This #ARCAugust is really showing how long it’s been since I’ve sat down and focused on my ARCs. Oops. And, all this time back on NetGalley means I’ve started requesting again! BAD JACKIE.

          I have a few poetry books on my TBR. I hope to read a handful before the end of the year; I’ll make certain to post a list of poetry books I enjoy then to try and broaden the rec list. 😉

          Ahhh–you have a valid point about time/budget constraints. After hearing Gretchen talk about how much time and effort she put into perfecting her ebook formatting, I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s a shame, though, since ebooks get more popular every year.

          • KrystiYAandWine August 24, 2017 at 1:55 pm

            Lady, I’m right there with you! I totally went on a Netgalley/Edelweiss request spree the other day. I can’t even feel bad about it though, because I got some books I REALLY wanted to read. I guess my weekend is literally booked now. 🙂

            Keep me posted! I would love to hear about which poetry books you enjoy.

            I didn’t realize that Gretchen also formatted her own ebooks. That’s impressive. That just sounds like such a huge undertaking. It makes me admire her all the more.

  • ChicNerdReads August 21, 2017 at 10:11 am

    sorry this was a miss for you due to formatting, ugh that sucks! ebook formatting for poetry is such a pain, this was the hardest process for me when self-pubbing my book. i remember sending 17 different copies of love, and you to my kindle/iphone/ipad/andriod device to make sure everything was crisp and clean like the book. it took me hours, days, and little to no sleep. happy that you aren’t giving up on poetry lol, i definitely wouldn’t like that! hehe. awesome review though! hope you have better luck!

    • Jackie B August 23, 2017 at 9:27 am

      It makes me feel better knowing that this is a challenge– but I’m so sorry it took you days to figure all that formatting out! I really respect the time and effort you put into this. While I have a paper copy of your book (MAN, when am I writing that review?!), I know there are people out there who greatly appreciate that time and effort.

      I won’t give up. More poetry, please! 🙂

  • Grab the Lapels August 24, 2017 at 8:17 am

    Even indie publishers need to have pride in their work and make sure it’s readable, whether that’s formatting or grammar and spelling. However, I let typos slide a little bit more with indie publishers because of funding. That means OCCASIONAL typos, not a book loaded with them. And the more polished an indie book is, the more I connect with and reach out to that publisher. I think Aqueous Books is a class act, for example.

    • Jackie B August 26, 2017 at 10:02 am

      You have a valid point, as always, Melanie! It was a really strange experience trying to read a collection of poems where I didn’t know where one started and another ended… In fact, I came across another poorly formatted ARC this week, too!

      I sent feedback to the publisher about the formatting concerns I had for both books. Hopefully they’ll revise them!

      • Grab the Lapels August 26, 2017 at 11:44 am

        When you review the books, just mention they are arcs and your concern. That should be good for readers and the publisher!

  • Dani @ Perspective of a Writer August 25, 2017 at 1:02 am

    Hi Jackie! I’m not surprised you are a fan of poetry and I love that you have a wide range of interests! ♥️

    I have run into formatting problems a lot. In a regular book it’s no big deal the chapters are smushed together… how terrible the experience you had! And you seemed to enjoy the poetry…

    • Jackie B August 27, 2017 at 6:23 pm

      It’s hard not to– I have so many bookish friends with a wide variety of interests, I find that it’s easy for them to convince me I am in love with something else. 😉 I’d say I am hesitant to pick up horror, psychological thriller (both other types of thrillers are fine for some reason) and academic texts. Other than that, I seem to enjoy them all! I’m sure there are other genres I don’t read, but I haven’t read them yet. 😉

Participate in the discussion!

%d bloggers like this: