A Phrase Which Becomes Us, by Jon Lawrence-Print Books-Bottlecap Press

A Phrase Which Becomes Us, by Jon Lawrence

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Jon Lawrence
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Poetry, chapbook, 36 pages, from Bottlecap Features.

Jon Lawrence’s debut chapbook A Phrase Which Becomes Us, takes an honest and meditative look at the relationship between student and teacher. By providing a kaleidoscopic exploration of images surrounding educational systems and social strife, the poems in this collection aim to shed light on the deeply personal connection teachers create with their students.

Lawrence’s poems give voice to the current state of being a teacher: At times, an almost apocalyptic fight to teach students how to survive in a world where education has been at the focal point of controversy and debate, with a hopeful bend into what many teachers do on a daily basis: give a survival plan to students to make grades seem less like a grave.

The collection creates a sequence using contrasting images of cityscape and nature mixed with “almost” formality: incorrect sestinas, or more formal stanza work mixed with surrealistic imagery. Lawrence goes back as far as ancient Pennsylvania forests, to as present as a graduation ceremony during the Canada wildfires in 2023. In just fifteen poems, A Phrase Which Becomes Us not only raises questions about navigating a complicated world as a teacher and student; but shows the interconnectivity of both of those stories. When a teacher can embrace concepts of imperfection and mistake and be honest in the reality of their situation within the classroom, students show who they really are: searing lightning flashes of hope embedded in their intertwined, and necessary stories.

Jon Lawrence teaches high school English and Creative Writing in his hometown of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He received an MFA in Creative Writing at the Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Wilkes University. His poetry and reviews have been published in Newfound, American Writers Review, The Bangalore Review, Moonstone Press, Rockvale Review, and Wild Roof Journal