This insightful book of poetry and art was compiled by Jan Sikes, the widow of the late Rick Sikes, who spent over ten years as an inmate at the Leavenworth, Kansas U.S. penitentiary. With introductions from Connie Nelson and Jan Sikes, the two introduce the reader to the life and spirit of Rick Sikes. We then move into the book and read a letter from the artist and poet himself, followed by a touching black and white photograph of Rick, before the book delves deeply into this poetic and creative world. The gorgeous colored illustrations use a type of pointillism to pull the viewer deeply within each piece. They range in subject matter from the U.S. Capitol Building, an inmate behind bars, a portrait of Willie Nelson, and pleasant country scene. While the artwork and poetry within mostly focus on life as an inmate, Rick Sikes discusses love, hope, and how the struggles of life can shape a man. The book ends with a selection of poetry from Jan Sikes, which gives the reader a full picture of this couple, as they are able to read the aching words from both sides.
It is clear from the first few pages of this book that it was put together with love, and a strong sense that getting Rick’s words and art out to the world would have the potential to benefit others. The poetic pieces are interspersed with the artwork, and each poem really rings deeply within the reader, as they contemplate what it would be like to be in prison, or separated from those you love by no choice of your own. The poems show deep contemplation and personal growth as one is forced to adapt to the situation they have found themselves within. This book would especially be of interest to any couple who has had to deal with a prison sentence affecting their love.
A lifetime lived through the self-reflecting conversations one woman has with herself as she sits in front of a mirror, Lessons II: Mirror Conversations takes the reader on a poetic journey of trial and tribulation. Poet LaDonna Marie has crafted a book of narrative poetry that is broken up into four distinct sections. Starting off the journey in Things Never Said, we come to know Abby as she looks back on her time as a young girl growing up. In Awareness, we follow Abby as a mother of two girls who is trying her best to put her hardships behind her as she aims to be the kind of mother she’s always wanted to be. She struggles to find a balance between finding time for her daughters, her career, and her relationship with God. The third section, The Shift, follows Abby as she realizes that she has to make a major change to find the happiness she so desperately yearns for, as we finally come to Lessons, which is the final section that displays what Abby has learned throughout her journey. Although the fourth and final part of this poetic narrative is the shortest one, it reaches out to the reader as well, letting them reflect on what Abby has gone through as she finds strength not only in God, but in herself as well.
The poems themselves are all rather short, and they are easy to get through, allowing a quick and enjoyable reading experience. That does not mean that they lack in content, as the author creates relatable pieces that are sure to resonate with women and men who have gone through similar hardships. The poetic form stays pretty much consistent throughout the entire book, with short lines that create fleeting, stream of consciousness verses. The poet clearly has a certain kind of style and while it does work well for her, at times we would have liked to see a bit more variety in the structure of the poems. Abby’s grief, elation, confusion, sadness, and longing could have been dug into even deeper if the poetic forms were played with to a higher degree. Nevertheless, this is a well-thought out collection that tells a complete tale through the use of finely crafted verse.
A collection of poetry that digs deep beneath what is seen every day and explores the inner-workings of the soul, Gerda Govine Ituarte’s Future Awakes in Mouth of Now is a book of multifaceted poetry that is sure to surprise and delight. By constantly changing her form, verse structure, and voice, we get a full picture of this poet, one who is delving into her past, trying to gain an understanding of life’s journey through the use of her lyrics and words. Ituarte ponders over ideas of life and death, family and friendship, and space and time. Her poems offer a sense of place, while also creating a kind of surrealism as she aims to explain the force that pulls one from birth, through each of their days, until our passage comes to an end. Short poems like Distracted and Sleep Awake are brief, but still pack an emotional punch, while longer pieces like Tea Party and Neighbor Hood Rewind reveal more of the personal parts of the poet’s life.
It’s always refreshing to read work by a poet who is not afraid to change their form, shifting lines, ideas, and phrases across the page in unique ways. Future Awakes in Mouth of Now succeeds at offering a wide variety of poem, while also keeping a consistent theme across the collection. It is clear from the passion that bleeds from the page that Ituarte is an experienced writer, who has used her power with words to cope with many a situation. It’s books like these that make us realize that the power of writing is so important, not only to tell a story, but to provide relief for the writer, in a way that allows their one-of-a-kind perspective to be shown.
This book of poems opens with an introduction that discusses what it means to find one’s voice, and how that process can be very challenging more often than not. Fee discusses his own voice, and the fact that while it is important to write poetry accessible to others, sometimes it is important to write for the self as well. The poems themselves are broken into two parts, the first including general poetry, and the second exploring the tribulations that accompany suffering from a mental illness. The opening poem, The Old Horse, showcases Fee’s strength at detailing something so simple in such an affecting and melancholic manner, causing the reader to sympathize not only with what is being described, but with the words on the page. These poems explore nature, human relationships, emotions, and what it means to struggle. With clarity, deft prose, and a certain understanding of the poetic form that can not easily be learned, B. Michael Fee delivers lyrical poems that are sure to strike a chord.
While this book of poetry could come from nearly any author, it is important to note that each piece is singular, and resonates with the reader in a similar voice, as it is clear that each poem comes from one man, B. Michael Fee. While the form of each poem is nearly identically throughout the collection, the topics vary, but still hold enough similarities to create transcending themes that stretch from one page to another. A few of the poems could use further polishing, but for the most part, these are the kinds of poems that will make you think about things, pondering deeply about what it means to be alive, and you really can’t ask for much more than that.
A collection of seventeen poems that focuses strongly on the theme of endurance, Nadine Auld Waite’s book Poetic Expressions for Life’s Journey promotes optimism even during the most difficult experiences in one’s life. The book is broken into five different sections which include: Endurance, Redemption, Fortitude, Motivation, and Triumph. The poems that fall under each of these sections encompass the theme of which they are a part of. As the poet states in the introduction of the book, she hopes that her poetry will “take the reader on a journey to self endurance through spirituality and finding the inner drive to overcome every and any obstacle.” The author is hoping to give inspiration to those who are depressed, suffering, or living in a constant state of gloominess. At the beginning of each different section there are colorful photos that depict the theme being discussed through the poetic voice. In between poems there are also short quotes that further contemplate the ideas Waite is sifting through.
While this collection is not overly long, the way that Waite has organized it and lengthened it by adding in quotes, photographs, and other anecdotes creates a complete feeling, as there is much to digest. There could certainly be more poems added in to the book, as the ideas that she writes about are complex ones that can be expanded upon. Nevertheless, the poetry that is included here does a good job of achieving what she sets out to do, and her message of inspiration is bound to appeal to those who are feeling lost or defeated.
A spellbinding collection of approximately one hundred poems, Alexej Savreux’s Graffiti on the Window searches for answers through well constructed prose. Split into two parts ‘Spray Gold Upon the City aka Spraypaint’ and ‘Artistique aka Oils’ the poems included here are reminiscent of more formal ones created hundreds of years ago. Savreux has a very strong poetic voice that carries on throughout the book, as his words alternate and then sway, contemplating gods above, the chaotic world that surrounds us, and the people we find ourselves commiserating with. The poems often discuss God and the afterlife, while trying to discover the true meaning of art and the human existence. The poems vary in length, with many falling under a half page, while others are only a few single lines. Certain poems like ‘She is a 21 Year Old Mother’ tell stories, following specific characters in their stanzas, while others like ‘Sun, Only Star, Our Cave of Men’ don’t so as much tell a specific story, instead recounting a kind of atmosphere in order to elicit the reader to feel something.
One of the most impressive things about this collection is the way Savreux has constructed his pieces, his tone and thematic elements continuing throughout the book, his language maintaining its strong voice. There are not many people who could write in this elegant, yet haunting manner. That being said, this is certainly a very particular kind of poetry book, and it might not appeal to everyone, at least not at first. We encourage you to dive into what the poet has put together, as you move forward, piece by piece, his words will start to make more sense, as his painted multi-colored graffiti comes to you in the form of finely original poems.
A short and simple book of poetry that still packs an emotional punch, Andy Martello’s Pretty Words. Nothing More. An Unlikely Book of Poetry is a brief collection that depicts love, loss, and longing. As the poet describes in the foreword, this project originated as a series of Facebook posts that included poems following along with accompanying images. A future edition of the work will include original artwork. Martello hopes that the reader will focus on the words alone in this edition, which create a feeling that titillates the senses. The poems inside are more or less one long poem separated by breaks, telling the story of a man and a woman, and the passion they share, and the loss that can be present when problems arise between two people who feel so thoroughly connected. The kinds of feelings that come about because of love and lust are certainly complicated, and Martello does a good job of expressing all of the different emotions that we as humans face through his poems.
Martello is clearly a talented writer, as even from the small amount of content that is within the pages of this book, it is obvious that he has a way with words. His poetic verses are succinct, but still powerful. Focusing on duality, and a seemingly singular relationship between a man and a woman, returning to it through different lenses again and again, the reader will find themselves speeding through this book. This is the way poetry should be, playing with assumptions and turning them on their heads, not over wringing out words repeatedly to create something completely unknown, but something new instead. The only problem about this collection is that we wish it was longer.
As Megan Loose explains in the introduction of her collection of poetry, Inside Out: Poetry Volume 1 – From Thoughts to Form, poetry is a medium in which we can express ourselves in our truest form. Poetry can reveal secrets, offer philosophical ponderings for us to wonder over, and reveal sides of us that we didn’t even know existed. Verses, when constructed carefully and with purpose, have the ability to liberate the spirit and ease the mind. As Loose explains, there is a certain “raw potential and possibility of words, of which we will never know the breadth, nor retire.” Words are endless, we have the ability to create sentences and phrases that have never even been spoken before. The poetry included here is full of longing and hope, messages of prayer and faith, as well as pieces that explore the depths of one’s soul, trying to figure out who we are through the power of words. Some poems are very short, while others run on for a page or two. With over one hundred separate works included in this collection, the lengths of poems seem to grow as you move forward in the book, with the longest poems and pieces reflecting on the poet’s life coming at the end.
Inspired by life, spirit, and people, the author “hopes to infiltrate the hearts of others in familiarity and greater understanding” through her work, and she has succeeded in doing so with her poems included here. While the pieces are never overly complicated, they still pack a sort of emotional punch. That being said, nothing entirely profound makes itself known in the book either. This is a reflective book of poetry, as the author reflects on her own life and shares her experiences through words, and also reflects out to the reader themselves, as Loose’s words causes one to evaluate their own choices, and wonder what life really means.
A collection of poetry that aims to relax, soothe, and inspire the reader, Soul Soothing Poetic Inspiration by Gracy Billingsley uses faith in the Lord to get its message across. The poet explains in the introduction of her book that this collection was “birthed out of obedience to God and a passion to see people empowered, free, and transformed.” The poems are saturated with the word of God to offer both hope and healing through the written verse. Broken up into five different sections including ‘Strength to Endure,’ ‘Power to Proceed,’ Mental Fortitude,’ ‘Grace to Overcome,’ and ‘Born to Abound,’ the author slightly shifts her tone and content, but the themes of faith, humility, and deliverance continue throughout the entire book. This book will appeal to those who already have a strong sense of belief in God and Jesus Christ, and can serve as a sort of introduction to those who are looking for a way to believe.
Since this book focuses almost entirely on God and the poet’s faith, it may not appeal to all, as it is very heavily religious in nature. The author finds strength through her faith and in the Lord which is admirable, and will certainly inspire those readers who are looking for a similar kind of relationship with God. If faith brings you comfort, then this book will offer a sort of soothing as it claims to. The poems are all pretty similar in nature, and we wish there would have been more about the poet herself, so that the reader could better connect with her life. Nevertheless, the passion she pours into each poem is obvious, creating a dedicated and enjoyable read.
In her collection of poems, In the Garden of Luxembourg, which is written in both English and French, poet Rosina Neginsky constructs beautifully lyrical poems that reveal concepts and images that both engross and captivate the reader. Through her writing, she creates a world where love and death coexist, as if they were a couple, dancing together through the wind. By inputting elements of magical realism, where both grey wolves and mermaids can be found among her lines, the poet does a good job of transporting the reader to another realm. There are poems that are inspired by photographs and paintings, while others are inspired by literary images. Nevertheless, Neginsky goes further than these muses, taking her words to a new plane of existence. Many of the pieces refer to the duplicity that can exist not only in nature, but through humankind itself. The structured prose here evaluates what it means to be alive, and how we can strengthen ourselves, and our relationships with others.
Neginsky is clearly interested in the idea of parallelism, which is obvious from the way she displays her poems in two languages side by side, allowing readers to choose which language to read her work in, if they happen to be fluent in both. While the poems do not often vary in form, the skill of creating such profound work in two languages is a feat in and of itself. The collection is both cohesive and immersive, the themes ever-present and related throughout all of the poems that have been included here. This is the kind of book that holds great meaning, the poet succeeding at causing the reader to think through the lines of the work she’s so carefully paired together.
Alterations | Thread Light Through Eye of Storm is a collection of transcendent poems by Gerda Govine Ituarte. Readers will follow along through her work as she weaves her experiences together in various forms, focusing on nature, women, beauty, and how the world shifts as our conversations and actions ebb and flow. Focusing heavily on imagery, smells, sights, sounds, and feelings, Ituarte presents visual poems that transport the reader to the scenes she so thoroughly depicts on the page. Her words coming across in both powerful and sensual terms at times, the poet leads a trail through childhood memories, summers spent in Harlem, presenting her own personal history on the page while also painting a picture of the history of women and Mother Earth herself. Combining elements of nature and humankind together, Ituarte succeeds at creating a lyrical consistency that is both easy and enjoyable to read.
Ituarte is clearly a seasoned poet, as she not only changes topics, but shifts her poetic form, playing with line structure, stanza organization, and tone. While the theme remains constant, making this collection cohesive and pertinent, the shifts in deliverance make it enjoyable to read through, as the author is constantly surprising the reader with her approach. The swirling doodles that are often presented on the page also add to the overall atmosphere of the book, again shifting in form but presenting a certain sort of consistency that engages the reader to wonder about composition and meaning. These poems are experimental, meaningful, and inventive. If you are looking for a collection of poetry that strives to create something original outside of the box, then Alterations | Thread Light Through Eye of Storm is just the book for you.
A collection of forty-four poems, Venus Connelly’s Dark Days chronicles her struggles through the written word as she dealt with debilitating bipolar disorder, agoraphobia, and PTSD. These illnesses were further aggravated due to her divorce. Through writing, the poet was able to cope and conquer her disabilities, grappling with each verse as she contemplated how to heal her mind and soul. A mother of two teenagers, Connelly found strength in constructing poetic pieces, many of which are included here. The work here goes to display how writing can calm and heal, poems coming out of the writer as individual pieces of medicine. Luckily, for the reader, what Connelly has written is also accessible and relatable. Ideas of darkness versus light are explored, as the poet wonders about the connections that both bring us together, and divide. Most of the poems are on the abstract side, as they convey emotion without necessarily telling a story. Connelly often contemplates her sanity, hoping for solace and protection as she wonders about the beauty of nature and the unexplainable mishaps that often compound upon her.
The poems included here are easy to absorb, as they all run about half a page with short lines and easy to read phrases. While most of the pieces are introspective, with the poet looking into the depths of herself, the reader will still be able to relate to her frustrations and in turn sort through some of their own issues if they are at all feeling any of the same emotions. The pain and rawness of Connelly’s life are expressed through her work. Although the collection does tend to focus a lot on darkness and difficult issues, there is still a silver lining of hope lingering throughout the entire book, that shows the reader the poet is downtrodden, but not giving up.
A collection of twenty-six poems arranged in alphabetical order, Andrea “Andy” Chenoweth’s Majestic Madness: Agony to Zest chronicles one woman’s journey through mishaps and misfortunes, to a life of contentment and hope. The poet uses her most personal thoughts to create poetic pieces that truly speak to the reader, covering all kinds of emotions that many of us have experienced. Life is full of so many uncertainties, and as Chenoweth displays through her poetry, sometimes it is okay to accept the unknown, and just try to be the best version of yourself that you can be. With phrases like “The riddle will not stop in the middle. It has perpetual motion like the ocean,” the poet continuously displays how life is in a state of flux, and that we are simply sailors paddling along the surface of the sea, trying to find our way. The use of the alphabet as a guiding force for her poetic expression serves as a nice tactic to change topics, while still remaining on the broad theme of perseverance and strength.
With poem titles like ‘Dancin’ the Fright Away,’ ‘Kind Mind,’ ‘Nurturing Self-Love,’ ‘Voyage of the Vanquishing Soul,’ and ‘Yippee, You’re Yourself,’ it is clear that Chenoweth covers all bases in this collection. While most of the poems are a page in length, or very close to one page, the content shifts while still remaining in the same vein. It could be argued that the style of each poems remains too constant at times, as Chenoweth never really tries anything too outlandish or new. Luckily, the constant theme of self-empowerment reads well across all of the works she’s compiled here, and will certainly appeal to any reader who is looking for guidance or faith.
Eat Me and Other Short Poems is a collection of approximately one hundred poetic verses and prose. Poet Alexej Savreux introduces his second collection of poems by explaining that this book is more open to subtle suggestion, including less intense visual cues, and offering pieces that are much shorter across the board. His individual works are meant to be sort of ‘poetic portraits’ that draw upon multiple layers, painting something that is both pleasing to read and stylistically accessible while brining about emotions within the reader that they might not necessarily feel comfortable with. These are the kind of poems that are meant to challenge the reader, not just in the terms of how they appear on the page, but by the feelings they instill within anyone whose eyes wander across the written words. Savreux has tried his best to make this collection accessible to all, and for the most part, has succeeded.
The poet plays with form and changes the style of his writing, even though they all tend to be just about a half page long. Some poems tell short stories, other speculate about unobtainable things, while others are ponderings about the world and religion. Various meanings and deliberations litter the pages as the collection moves forward. It’s somewhat difficult to classify the kind of poems that are featured here, since the content is rather diverse and unlike anything we’ve really read before. The best way to recommend this collection is to say that it is something that stands out for it’s uniqueness, and the only way to truly grasp its content is to dig into the poems yourself.
‘A collection of short stories and poems about holding on, letting go, and the space-in-between,’ James Patrick’s There’s a Person in Here is an intriguing reflection of one’s man life, through the ups and downs that he has undergone. By mixing constructed prose that tell short narratives, with poetic forms that elicit less concrete ideas and recollections, Patrick succeeds at keeping his book interesting at all times. The author’s writing is structured around loss, as he began writing back in 1989 after the unexpected death of his parents, taking the reader to the end of where his words come to rest, at the time he loses his eldest son. His writing captures heartbreak, and how the world can continually mystify the soul, as we search for answers, trying to comprehend why things have gone in the way they have. Covering all aspects of a man’s life, There’s a Person in Here has its own triumphs and tribulations, the forms the author writes in constantly alternating as he strings you along through his personal journey, reflecting on his life, and in turn causing you to think about your own.
While the cover of the book is a bit off-putting, due to the way the eyes of the person pictured seemingly pierce your soul, it actually tends to fit the overall tone and themes of the book. Life is a distracted mess of mishaps strung together by memories. By claiming that there is a person inside of this book, James Patrick begs the reader to go further along with his words, inviting them to come along with him as he recounts his life through the written verse. The poems often change shapes, lengths, thus showcasing that as a poet he is capable of alternating his style, which not all writers can claim. Right around the hundredth page of the collection, we are introduced to ‘Openings’ which includes ‘forty-seven first sentences of short stories not yet written.’ While this may seem like an incomplete way to read or write anything, the beginnings of each of these unfinished stories actually showcase a lot about the writer, and relate his art back to life, as aren’t we all living in a similar way? Isn’t this just a life that has started, is still being written, and has yet to be finished? There’s a Person in Here is certainly the kind of book that you will have a hard time forgetting.
Colors of Delight is the debut book of poetry by Nandita Das. It is filled with a variety of poems, some humorous, others containing bright, beautiful imagery, and others still eliciting the reader to ponder about philosophical notions of what it means to be alive. The author weaves together her prose in a stylized manner that brings a sense of harmony to each page. The poems are strung together to create a colorful and ever-alternating experience for the reader, as she aims to ‘paint our world with colors of delight.’ Topics such as Newton’s Law and why gravity exists are explored, as are the changing of the seasons, as spring emerges from winter, the heavens and fate are scrutinized in the simplest of humanistic terms, and the act of writing itself is challenged through the poetic verse, as the author deliberates on whether or not her work will come across as good enough.
At right around sixty pages, with each poem only about one page long, this is a very easy collection for anyone to read at any time. It could very well be read in one sitting, as each piece flows from one to the next. The way that Das consistently changes her subject matter keeps the book interesting, but her poetic voice remains constant, allowing the reader to become comfortable with her style of poetry. While the author does sometimes inflect worry into her work, hoping that everything will turn out alright, for the most part this is an upbeat and positive collection, as Das reflects on the wonders of life that surround us in richly warm hues every day. This poetic work truly is a delightful collection of colors.
A collection of over fifty poems, No Robin Hood and Other Poems by Earl Handley covers a wide range of topics, including pieces that are both sentimental and humorous. An avid hunter whose main tool in catching game is his trusted bow and arrow, Handley recounts many of his hunting expeditions throughout the collection. While he has been successful thirty-nine times over the years, many of the poems are about his unsuccessful hunts, as the poet explains through his words that at times he has learned more through his failures than when he caught something. While some of the poems are based on his real life, other pieces are fictional, offering a nice balance that showcase the poet’s life, and also his storytelling ability through made up accounts. Nearly every poem is an easy to read one page piece, with the exception of the titular poem and a couple of other longer pieces.
This collection is easy to read and would appeal to those who are avid hunters, especially those who enjoy hunting with a bow and arrow. There are poems here for everyone, as Handley recounts everything from the death of his father, to his love of fishing. Since the poems have been written over a long period of time in Handley’s life, you can hear his voice filtered through different ages as he learns and grows into the man he has become. Even though there are more than fifty poems included here, the book is a pretty quick read. Nevertheless, it is easy to linger on some of the more complex poems like the titular ‘No Robin Hood’ that opens the collection, as well as ‘Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life.’ All in all, Handley has constructed an appealing book that many readers of poetry are bound to enjoy.
Kinyamaswa: Merciless: An Epic Poem written by Andreas Morgner is a sweeping and engaging narrative told in extended poetic verse. Morgner has put together a lyrical journey that depicts what it was like for Rwandan refugees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during the aftermath of the 1994 genocide. As it states in the book, in Rwandan, kinyamaswa means ‘like an animal,’ but it can also mean cruel, brutal, or merciless. This applies not only to the terrible atrocities these people had to face, but to the way Morgner writes, his words offering little mercy for the reader’s senses. This is more than just a poem, it is a story, it follows various characters and fleshes them out, making them more than just fragments or ideas, as Morgner’s talent makes them come alive on the page. This is poetic storytelling at its best.
Although there are separate poems in a way, broken down into numbered cantos, the entire narrative flows, the pieces running into one another in a pleasing manner even when the perspective or subject matter shifts. Morgner does an excellent job of describing the people, the settings, and the emotions that are taking hold of everyone as the exodus occurs and then lingers on. More than just a reflection on the people who are suffering, Morgner forces the reader to think about the social and political ramifications of genocide, and how it affects not only one group of people, but the entire world. Kinyamaswa is a one of a kind book that tackles a heartbreakingly difficult topic and makes something beautiful out of it.
Finally Out of the Bedroom is a collection of nearly one hundred poems written by Shedrick Barnett that chronicle the highs and lows of what it means to be human. Separated into six different sections, Praying in the Bedroom, Making Love in the Bedroom, Sharing Wisdom in the Bedroom, Mirror Moments in the Bedroom, Reminiscing in the Bedroom, and Venting in the Bedroom, that focus on the poets relationship with God, his love life, learning to deal with the trials of life, finding inner peace, looking back on the past, and coming to terms with himself respectively, this collection is rather vast in its scope. The title of the collection, which also happens to be the introductory poem that brings readers into the book speaks of the poet’s joy that his written words are finally being released so that they may reach the hearts and minds of those who come across his work.
Nearly all of the poems are about one page long, and the form of short lined stanzas appears again and again. The poet also seems to really enjoy using rhyme in his poems, which can be enjoyable to read, but also gets to be a repetitive after a while. We would like to see Barnett change his form a bit more to showcase the different styles he is capable of writing. This book is nicely organized and progresses in a pleasing manner, the poet showcasing the variety of topics he is skilled at writing about in verse. As is mentioned many times in the book, Barnett is aiming to Share Humane Experiences Devoutly (S.H.E.D.), and it is clear that he has achieved that here.
Black Poet by Cassius Ali is a collection of over one hundred poems that explore what it means to be an African American man in today’s world. Covering topics such as love, relationships, society, religion, and even slavery, through the written word organized in verse, this is a comprehensive collection that offers the reader a lot to digest. Nearly all of the poems are rather short in length, most of them coming in at just one page, but they still pack an emotional punch that forces the reader to reevaluate their previously held beliefs when it comes to how black people are perceived in treated in our culture. Dissecting the differences between men and women, the racism that still unfortunately exists in our world today, and how perceptions of African American people has changed over time, this is a piece of work that covers nearly all of the bases on a topic such as this.
While there is a lot of ground to be covered in this collection, which Ali does very well, the organization of the poems could have been structured in a more fluid way. As it stands now, the poems are simply organized in alphabetical order by the title of each poem. Sometimes they tend to follow along in theme as well, but we believe the collection would work even better if they were sorted into sections based on theme and subject matter. This collection will not only appeal to African Americans, but also people who enjoy reading powerful, well crafted, short poems. It can be read quickly, with one poem coming after the next, or you can enjoy the ideas presented one at a time, returning to the collection again and again.
Coffee Table DeLights is the first volume of three books that includes over sixty Christian-based rap poems. A reflection of his personal walk with God, Soul’s poetry covers a multitude of themes mainly but not exclusively dealing with the human struggle to live a life of wholeness and righteousness. Soul bears his soul “to reach those who are lost, and to touch Christians that are in need of encouragement.”
Writing in both first and third person narratives, first time author and poet Eli Soul candidly shares the trials and triumphs of his Christian journey. Short and succinct, Soul’s poetry is a lilting mixture of couplets, iambic pentameter, lyric, and free verse. His poems appear to be a random collection of inspirational themes focused on him until he suddenly offers reminders that the Christian life is meant to be a communal experience. Good examples are found in “The Most Mysterious of All Keys” and “The Narrow and Righteous Road.” The majority of his writing is laced with themes on struggle, reaching out to the lost, and fellowship with God, which is intended for both men and women. Themes of struggle include “Flesh Wars” and “Crying Out”; reaching out to the lost – “Seeking Missing Persons” and “Where Are You?”; and fellowship with God – “Broken Loneliness” and “Breaking Bread,” to name a few examples. Yet some are specifically earmarked to uplift downtrodden women as well as a couple love poems to his wife. While Soul’s messages are enlightening and motivating, Christian LGBTs may find poems, such as “Don’t Just Point Out the Homosexual Acts” and “Many Flashes of Nonsense,” offensive since Soul adds homosexuals to the list of transgressors. Although appealing to readers of a conservative mindset, Coffee Table DeLights sends stirring and insightful messages that reach an extensive believer and non-believer audience.
Stella’s Funcke is a collection of over fifty poems written by author Celeste Jona that examines the strength of one’s inner self. It asks readers to look inside themselves in order to understand who they are, what they are, and why they are this way. Sorted into seven different sections including ‘Life is a Funny Thing,’ ‘I Am You – You Are Me,’ ‘Somewhere Along the Way We Got Lost,’ ‘We Bought Into the Deception and Lies,’ Look Deeper,’ ‘Realize Each Person You See Daily is Your Reason for Living’ and ‘You Can Choose to Free Your Convictions That You Purchased From a Dime Store,’ the poems revealed here are both rhythmic and insightful, causing the reader to wonder about their sense of worth, and how they fit into this complicated world in which we all are a part of.
While most of the poems are all a single page, the author does alternate her form, playing with line length, tempo, and the overall structure of each poem, offering up differences that readers will appreciate. Although the book is separated into different sections and themes, there is a constant thematic element that runs throughout the book and ties everything together in a pleasing manner. The section ‘Look Deeper’ is especially powerful, as the poet asks the reader to look at themselves in a different light, whether that be through ‘The Mirror,’ ‘When Wishing,’ or even at times to ‘Remember.’ This collection also brings in the strength and love of God as a driving force, offering up inspiration to those readers who are feeling lost. Although the subject matter is important and at times intense, this is an easy to read work that can offer hope and inner strength to any who read these structured words that poet Celeste Jona has so lovingly written.
Aphrodisiac: Scorpio Season is a collection of eight poems by Dyme Taylor that are dedicated to the double standards in today’s society. From this dedication alone, it is clear that Taylor has a message to deliver through her written words. Right from the start, the first poem ‘Open Letter’ has a gritty, raw, and real appeal to it, as the narrator discusses sex, poetry, and how she’s feeling. Coupled with colorful and what most would consider scandalous illustrations, this is not a collection for the light at heart. Through the words and the images, there is a strong sense of female empowerment through the suffering of women who have come before. Taylor, the poet, is clearly trying to deliver a message through these poetic pieces. ‘Damaged Goods’ explains how society has kept the narrator downtrodden and messed up her perceptions, ‘Queen Gypsy’ is sexual, liberating, and holds nothing back about the feminine mystical allure. While ‘Vanity Slave,’ ‘Devil’s Hour,’ ‘Kushnhenn,’ and ‘I Love U 2 Death’ fill out the middle of the collection with verbosity and strong messages, the final poem ‘Soulmate’ ends on a more somber, reflective note.
While this is not a very long collection, it pacts a powerful punch. Poet Dyme Taylor uses words in such a way that every one counts, not letting the reader shy away from the difficult topics or the reality of how certain people feel in society. The illustrations bring these issues to life, and they perfectly fit alongside the dark overtones of most of the poems that are found here. While this could be easily classified as urban poetry, it is so much more than that. It’s something to read and reflect upon, as we wonder why women are treated and objectified in such ways as explained so artistically here.
A collection of poetry that varies both in subject and form, A Candle Flickers Bright by David Galbis-Reig, M.D., is a compelling volume that speaks about the many different facets of life. As Galbis-Reig states in his foreword, ‘poetry is a soulful expression of our innermost emotional experiences’ and we can certainly tell from the words he’s written how much poetry means to him. After reading the introduction to the book, and getting a sense for who the poet is and some of the things that have influenced his life, we jump headfirst into the first part, ‘Ember’s Alight’ which focuses on family, inspiration, the woes of men, and the meaning of life. The book offers other sections that include poems about nature, love, death, dreams and fantasies, as well as poems in the form of stories. One of the most intriguing parts of this collection in our opinion is ‘Part 6: Medicine in Poetry’ as it focuses on Galbis-Reig’s work in the medical field. In this part of the book, the powerful poem entitled ‘Despair’ discusses the unique and often frustrating relationship between patient and doctor. As the doctor tries to comfort the patient they grow more and more perturbed, as the words whittle down into single syllable lines, we are forced to question how we would react in times of such distress.
The best kind of poetry collections are the ones that change up the subject matter, as well as how the words are organized and congregated upon the page. Galbis-Reig succeeds in both of these areas as he covers a wide range of topics, and also switches up the formatting of his poetry, playing with lines, spacing, tempo, and even pacing. For someone who works in the medical field, it is refreshing to see someone who deals with science on a daily basis be so attuned to his creative side, being about to write poetry that both entertains and inspires.
In her fourth book, 46, author and poet Melissa Burke brings us a collection of poetry and a few short stories that focus on what it’s like to be mixed up within the throes of depression and mania. There’s a nice mixture here of stories and poems that speak about love, darkness, light, confusion, pain, weirdness and everything that falls in between. As the author explains in her introduction, she is a woman who is suffering from nearly every kind of illness or disorder that you can imagine, but that has not stopped her from writing through all of the craziness. Although the author is not confident about herself, and even claims to hate herself, through her words and reflections the reader is able to see a deeper side of her, where she bares herself on the page through her poetry. We witness the struggle through her prose as she describes the kinds of things that she’s gone through, never censoring herself, as is clear with poems with titles like ‘Rat Poop in Camelot’ and ‘Rape: The Aftermath.’
We’d find it hard to find another collection that is more raw or heartbreaking than Melissa Burke’s 46. And since poetry is all about leaving nothing behind, pouring your soul out onto the page, Burke succeeds in what she’s set out to do: reveal everything that comes to her mind. While the pieces and organization are somewhat unorganized and messy at times, it works for the collection as a whole, since this is the kind of poet who doesn’t seem to care for any kind of cleanliness in her life. Rather, she’s been unable to achieve a certain sense of balance, but that hasn’t stopped her from writing, and we’re so glad that she’s found an outlet through her poetic craft.
Full of poems to inspire and provide girls and women the guidance and strength necessary in order for them to overcome their hardships, Lessons: Shattered Pieces Being Restored by author and poet LaDonna Marie speaks volumes about the tenacity of the female spirit. Exploring the difficult themes of heartache, pain, fear, hurt, and shame, Marie uses her own experiences to relate to her readers, as she begs them to look inside themselves, knowing that each and every woman has the power to be the leader of her own life. Through the introduction of the book where the author gives a few words of encouragement, we get a sense for the work and what it is going to try and accomplish. The poems that follow cover many different topics, using the love of God as a guiding force to navigate through the complexities of life.
Poems such as ‘No One Loves Me’ and ‘Constantly Struggling’ show how vulnerable and honest the author is being as she admits the times she has felt alone and betrayed in the world. This is a nice juxtaposition against later poems such as ‘Breakthrough’ and ‘Stand Firm’ that fully display the strength of the voice of the poet, as she refuses to back down and let the world trample upon her spirit as it has done so in the past. One of the best things about this collection is the journey that it takes you on as you read, the poems staying pretty consistent in their form, but changing in their attitude, as the reader learns and grows along with the poet herself. This is a great collection for any woman who has felt downtrodden before, as LaDonna Marie’s powerful words aim to lift her spirit up.
The Blue Science of Heart or Our Time Together is a collection of thirty nine poems by Radu Andrei that chronicle the dividends of where friendship and love take us, as we allow our lives to bring us into a state of transcendence. By brining in elements of the world around us, Andrei constructs deep poems in simple lines that speak to the heart of the reader about the ideas of love. Exploring topics like solitude, strangers, dreams, different religious ideology, and even astrology, there are a wide array of filters that are applied to the words that Andrei pairs together in the forms that he has created. While most of his poems are only a page long, some run longer in length, yet the accentuation on the lines of each poem is where the main focus lies within this collection. As the poet refers to his own work, he dedicates his poetry to men and women in love, along with the flowers and herbs of spring, which both fold together to bring back the miracle of life.
While these poems focus on the great aspects of love, those souls who are in between lovers, or who have yet to find their soul mate will also find poems to enjoy within this collection. Andrei is a poet who follows form through function, as he applies the lines to his words just as he does so in the reverse, therefore creating each poem with careful consideration. It is obvious from his work that he is a poet that cares a great deal about his craft, and it shows through the shining highlights that glow off of the poems contained within The Blue Science of Heart or Our Time Together.
A book that contains poetry, religious ideology, and an abundance of striking images, Crimes of Faith by Anah Jochebed is the kind of book that a reader can fully immerse themselves within. As the author states in his introduction “this book should be read as a story, a fairy tale, a secret…” Ideas like laissez faire, falling from grace, and redemption are discussed in the narrative constructed here, throughout life itself and by comparing these subjects to religious beliefs. The author gives a back-story of his life and experiences in the opening pages of the book, before segueing into the essays and poems that comprise the majority of this book’s pages. The author hopes to help people through the words written here, to find guidance for those who are lost, and to bring about a kind of absolution for those who have committed wrongs. The content is very religious in nature and may not be for everyone, but since there is such an abundance of ideas amongst these pages, it is likely that anyone could find some sort of hope from what is presented.
This is not the kind of book to be taken lightly, as the overall theme is one that is meant to benefit people who are lost, without hope or faith. Simply by amassing this much work into one volume is a feat in itself, and we commend Jochebed for putting together all of the material that is included here. The design of the book is very enticing, and the pages are organized in a helpful way, even though the form of the content does tend to vary a bit. As the author states, after reading this book “many will live on in disbelief, many will simply give up in frustration, many will become angered and disappointed, and many will cheer…” but regardless of what the reader is bound to do, this book is sure to make them think.
An enthralling collection of over eighty poems, Rooted in My Seeds, by Franklin C. Bill contains poetry that is hard to forget. By constructing pieces that are both inventive and formed in planned organized lines, Bill has written words that explore out to the edges of one’s humanity. The poems are filled with questions, about life, about nature, and about what it means to be alive, in the here and now. The idea of ink, and the power to write itself is also discussed frequently among these poems, as the ability to write poetry in the first place is such an amazing feat that the poet clearly believes should never be taken for granted. The feeling that comes from writing is a sensation like any other, as any poet knows, writing words down upon the page can be a kind of therapy, as it appears it may be for Bill. And just as his own writing helps him sort through the trials and tribulations of his own life, his poetry offers recourse to those who read it, as they journey along the avenues he has created so eloquently pairing words and phrases together with such delicacy. There are so many powerful pieces here, but a few that stand out in particular are ‘This Time in Another Place,’ ‘In Soft Ripened Old Age,’ and ‘The Promise.’
As the title of this collection suggests, Rooted in My Seeds is not only a reflection on a life lived, but about the death that approaches all of us. Every day we live we are one day closer to our demise, a fact that has always been, and a fact that will never change. Through personal reflections and by recounting or creating stories about others, Bill delves deeply into the consciousness of what it means to be mortal. The form of his poems are for the most part rather similar, with stanzas of a manageable size and poems that usually don’t stretch on for more than one page. But what really stands out about this collection and causes it to be something special is the way that the poet is able to create a consistency that flows together, yet construct separate poetic pieces that have a voice all their own. Franklin C. Bill has a way with words that most writers only wish they were capable of.
The Poetry of Alabaster Bosoms, compiled by Kevin Joy is without a doubt, a rather interesting collection. As described by Joy himself, this work comprises of Ogden-Nash style poems that are meant to appeal to the college aged crowd on a humorous level. Around one hundred poems, all written in the same style, begin with the words, shame, shame, and then move on into some kind of rhyming anecdote of a ridiculous nature. Famous people throughout history and pop culture are often mentioned, like Napoleon, Liberace, Hitler, Lady Gaga, King Tut, and Hillary Clinton, just to name a few. The poems tend to be dirty, in a way that could be classified as bathroom humor. With sexual innuendos, and other similar jokes being plentiful here, this is less a collection of poetry and more a book of comedic written words that are formed together to elicit a laugh from the reader.
Although some of the poems/jokes are rather entertaining and original in their form, the consistent repetition of shame, shame, that every poem begins with does tend to get old after a while. The length of each poem also leaves something left to be desired, as the most we ever get is just five lines. Some of the jokes seem like they could go on for much longer, if only given the chance. That being said, it’s clear the author has a specific form that he wishes to stick to, as the repetition is obviously a purposeful choice. This collection is not for everyone, as some may even be offended by the lyrics contained within, but nevertheless, it is a piece of work that highlights all of the insane ideas we can come up with about people, places, and things.
A collection of twenty-six poems spread across three different sections, Janna Vought’s Wicker Girl explores feminist ideals as the words that she pieces together in rhythm show how the poet’s soul and self have changed over time as she has experienced the variety of her life. The three sections are entitled ‘Girl,’ ‘Woman,’ and ‘Soul’ which serve as representations of the journey that the poet will take the reader on throughout this collection. Dissecting tough topics like motherhood, rape, menstruation, sexuality, and depression towards the beginning of the book, Vought uses her poetry to let the blood flow in an assaulting and engaging manner, making the reader truly experience all of the angst that is contained within each line. Evolving from girl into woman, the next section of poetry has a less chaotic feeling as the female grows and learns, yet still longs for certain things she cannot achieve. While the last section has a more supernatural feeling to it, as the poet examines her own consciousness in different ways.
This is by no means a collection that is filled with happiness, but through the words that Janna Vought has written, she elicits a deep sense of feeling that causes those who experience her poetry to understand that life is not always easy. Through the darkness and despair of her words, one is able to find the silver lining, as there is hope that better days will come. The author claims that the poems included here ‘demonstrate the strength of the feminine spirit to survive’ and we couldn’t agree more. Through powerful poems like the titled ‘Wicker Girl,’ ‘Contemplate the End,’ and ‘Legend of the Witch’ Vought has created a searing book of words that is sure to speak volumes for the kinds of struggles that countless numbers of women have had to overcome.
A collection of poetry that deeply affects the heart and mind of the reader, Compositions of the Dead Playing Flutes, written by Babara Ellen Sorensen is a searing testament to what it means to struggle. Exploring themes of loss, solitude, relationships, spirit, and the body itself, the poet intertwines elements of nature into her work to offer up words that titillate the senses. Split into three sections entitled ‘Wind, Water & Medicine,’ ‘Wings, Creatures & Other Tales,’ and ‘Bouquets, Feasts & Flutes,’ Sorensen displays her talent through the fifty-seven poems that are included here. A recurrent theme throughout her work is the force of nature and how it affects the human condition, especially in regard to those individuals the poet knows personally, like her beloved family members. Dedicated to the life of her son, the loss of a child, which is such a tragic experience to go through, is chronicled here in lyrics that ring deep and true.
Motherhood is a topic that can be viewed from all angles, as there have been billions of mothers over the course of time, all of them having a similar, yet unique experience in their motherhood. In her collection, Sorensen is able to explain what it feels like to be a mother, and even more profound, what it feels like to be a mother who has lost a son. Through the seasons that pass, and the elements of the Earth that are constantly evolving and changing, so are the words that the poet has constructed so elegantly on the page. The pieces presented here are all distinct, yet the thematic similarities they share pull the reader along with ease, as their narratives continue and then linger on. Through different poetic forms, all of which retain a consistent heartbeat, Barbara Ellen Sorensen has succeeded with this strong collection.
A collection of over two hundred poems, Chris Passey’s A Book About Nothing is anything but what the title claims it to be. In the beginning of this work, the poet introduces us to their writing style by explaining that the poems included within these pages will come across to the reader as a journey of dreams, shifting from darkness to light. By exploring what poetry in itself means, the poet shares ideas about how this written form can affect people in a variety of meaningful ways. The author claims the book is part poetry, and part self-help, and this rings true through the variety of content included, as the writer claims such things like ‘Poetry could not exist if love did not exist.’ This in itself is a very powerful statement, that goes to show the kind of work constructed in this collection. The poems are broken down into five sections, including ‘Talking Too Much,’ ‘Love,’ ‘Dreamscapes,’ ‘Darkness,’ and ‘Light.’ The poems that fall under each section share similar themes, but since Passey has the ability to discuss all topics in an equally eventful and moving way, the philosophical notions that are pondered upon throughout the book all ring true, letting the reader experience the words that have been bounded together.
Bursting at the seams with content, A Book About Nothing offers a little bit of everything for those who are interested in poetry. By compiling so much work into one collection, you can really see all of the different shades of Passey’s writing. At times, since there is so much included here, the book can become a bit overwhelming to digest, but it is apparent that Passey is passionate about this work, as the poet’s fervor comes across on the page. This is a superb collection for anyone who is interested in really getting lost amongst a giant field of written words.
A Bouquet of Rainbows by John Deville is a collection of approximately fifty poems that aim to discover the meanings of such timeless topics like peace, love, longing, and despair. By offering a wide range of different poetic pieces, Deville explores what it means to be human throughout his work. While some of the poems are overarching in structure and theme, some have a more specified focus, as the poem ‘Remembering Princess Diana’ displays by characterizing one very famous woman. This is juxtaposed with the poem ‘My Valentine’ in which the poet describes a woman who is beautiful in similar ways to the princess, but is not readily identified, besides in the ways the poet describes her appearance as he knows it. There are reflections on mothers and fathers, as well as upon the poet himself, as he even writes a poem about his own poetry. This self-reflection amongst pieces of observation help to balance the collection as it continues on.
If there is one overarching theme included in A Bouquet of Rainbows, it could be argued that the subject most present is love, as the poet describes it in multiple poems in a variety of ways. With the positive title of this collection, love is often viewed upon in a positive way, but that is not to say there is no darkness amongst the written words that Deville has compiled. The albatross is a recurring creature in this collection, which is used as if it is looming high over head. The search for love is also a story that is mentioned in poetic form, so even though the title displays great happiness, Deville’s poems are not all full of cheer. Nevertheless, this is an enjoyable collection that the reader will be able to ponder over with bright lights shining up ahead.
The Marble Wave is a collection of approximately thirty poems by Massimo Mandolini-Pesaresi. While some of the poems are given titles, others remain unnamed. Exploring the path of human life, and how our journeys progress from beginning to end, the poetry written here is elegant in structure, and offers up a classical feeling of ancient times long ago, when great thinkers and artists were considered the heroes of their day. Some of the prose is personal in nature, yet other writing included here is somewhat political, offering up juxtapositions that somehow ring together in a smooth flowing manner. As the back of the book explains, the poetry here ‘pays tribute to those who have not endured, while offering solace to others who remain.’
What works best about this book is that even though each poem is rather short, they pack an emotional punch to the reader who discovers them. Philosophical ideas about our existence are paired up with elements of nature, dissecting down what it means to be human while searching for something more. There is hope coupled up with despair, as Mandolini-Pesaresi shows his skill for writing poetry in this highly stylized and classic way. Some of the strongest pieces here are ‘Diver,’ the opening poem, ‘Unearthed a Treasure in the Wind,’ and ‘Shattering the Shadows.’ If you are a fan of the kind of poetry that opens up doors in your mind and causes you to think about who we really are, then The Marble Wave is sure to inspire you.
A Breath on the Window or Brainstorming Pictures is a collection of twenty poems by Radu Andrei. The work is described as ‘a bit of surrealist poetry of pain, separation, isolation, despair, and threatening disaster, evoking an archetypal world, underlying the contemporary existence.’ The poems explore themes of searching for the good in the world, even when there appears to be so much unrelenting darkness all around. The poet pulls from his real life experiences living in Romania after the Second World War, enduring the Russian occupation, poverty, and the systematic ideological indoctrination that was imposed by the totalitarian regime that controlled the government when he was a young man. The poems are not overly complex, but their imagery offers up ideas to contemplate, as they wonder what it means to be a human in this world. Paired with abstract black and white line drawings, the poems flow over the reader as they follow each other in a similar fashion, one by one.
Poems like ‘During the Night’ and ‘Stirring the Dreams’ offer up a sense of longing and hope while pushing through the despair, at the same time, the words are left purposely vague enough that the reader is able to interpret the poet’s words in their own way. This doesn’t simplify the work at all, but rather it lets the reader interact with the emotions that the poet has placed upon the page. The color blue is mentioned often throughout the collection, a singular color, or perhaps a feeling, thus strings along and connects each poem together. The book ends with the poem ‘Seeds of Time’ while contemplating love and freedom, and concluding with a set of ellipses, therefore not really ending at all, but instead drifting off into the atmosphere.
A collection of thirty-three poems, Qiana Davis’ book Uncollected is a powerful poetic piece that speaks volumes about women, race, relationships, and so much more. Divided into three separate sections entitled ‘Antique Minds,’ ‘Emotional Record,’ and ‘Coin Masters’ this collection never loses its beat as the prose keeps the reader engaged. Poems like ‘Self-Absorbed’ reflect on the character of a specific individual, while other poems like ‘White People’ focus on an entire group of people, offering up words to divulge how the poet perceives them, or at least how she leads on to how they are seen. The poems are all mostly one page long, and their lines only contain a few words each, but that doesn’t stop them from getting their messages across. The poems ‘Beauty Supply,’ ‘She & I’ and the titled poems from each section are especially of a formidable note, that we find to be delivered in a fantastic manner.
This may not be a collection of poetry for everyone, as there are many harsh words, slang is often used, and race issues are brought to the forefront. That being said, this is the kind of collection that shows the poet’s strength, as her work varies in tone and length, even though the structure of the lines stays relatively the same. Qiana Davis has written the kinds of poems that you want to talk about with others, as she looks within herself, and those around her, trying to come up with an adequate way on how to describe how she feels. In Uncollected, she does more than just put words on a page; she evokes a feeling that all poets strive to achieve.
My Kitchen Window is a poem written by Flora Dillman. Within this piece, the poet describes all of the emotions and memories she feels while looking out the window of her kitchen that offers a view of the outdoors that surrounds her house. Separated into seven stanzas, all which are rather long, the prose that the poet writes is long in form and flows out in rather complete sentences. There is a certain stream of consciousness quality to this writing, as the author thinks about the four different seasons and how the world changes as the weather transforms throughout the year. Happy memories come when she thinks about the warm summertime, followed by the comfortable and cooler temperatures as the leaves change in the fall. Next comes winter and the harsh cold that she does not quite enjoy, but at least there is the reprieve of Christmas delight. In the spring flowers burst forth and the green returns again, causing the poet to reflect upon her strong belief in Jesus and God, offering up thanks for all that this beautiful world that she sees through her kitchen window, has to offer.
This work is a very reflective piece and in a way, through her writing, Dillman is putting a lot of her thoughts and emotions on display, not only through the words she writes about the different seasons and sights she sees through her kitchen window, but also through her religion that she shares towards the end of the poem so willingly. This piece is bound to bring out emotion within the reader as they too reflect on how the world changes around us, how the seasons affect us, and what their relationship with God may be. Since this poem has a highly religious nature, it may not be for everyone, but it has the ability to inspire those who follow a similar spiritual calling.
My Brain Had a Flash Dance Party, But Didn’t Invite Me is a poem written by Laura Linder. As the poet herself describes it, this poem is an account of a teenage girl’s first experience with a grand mal seizure. It is an explanation of what the seizure feels like to an unknowing girl, recounting a scary experience in a more fun, lighthearted way. The poem begins with the teenage girl waking up on the floor with a bunch of strangers surrounding her, she doesn’t know what happened and as very confused as to what is going on. Her family surrounds her and tells her that things are going to be okay, to go with the men as they load her into an ambulance. Once she arrives in the hospital, the doctor informs her that she had a seizure, explaining it in a way as if her brain cells began to have a dance party, one of them starting to dance uncontrollably, before all of the others joined in, causing havoc and dismay to the young girl’s body, as she lost control of herself and her bodily functions.
It is not clear who the unnamed girl is in this poem, but it can be surmised that it may be the poet herself, as this is most likely a personal experience that is being written about. The playful manner of something so serious is a bold approach, and it is what makes the poem an interesting read. The rhythm and flow of the words work rather well, as the rhymes couple together in four lined stanzas. It would be beneficial if we were able to review an entire collection of poetry from this poet, to see what other kind of work she has to offer, but this poem alone does show that there is a great deal of creativity flowing from the writer’s mind.
The Imperfect Perfection is a collection of poetry by Joseph Lingerfelt. Filled not only with poetry, but written passages of reflective prose, personal anecdotes, and various photographs of nature and the author’s family members, this book offers a little bit of everything to the reader. As Lingerfelt states in his introduction, he was inspired to write this book by his fiancée Patty. Inspirational and religious in nature, there are life memories included in each chapter. The poet hopes that his words will help others through the tough times they are faced with. Being able to express himself through words has helped the author put his past behind him, and move forward in life. The book is split into seven chapters: The New Beginning, Life Lessons and Journeys, Past Struggle ‘The New Life,’ Natural Comparison, Religious, Personal and Touching, and Family. With over one hundred poems in this collection, there is an abundance of poems to read and ponder over.
This kind of poetry is very specific in the way it is presented, as it is more of an insight into the author’s life and what he has gone through than anything else. His main goal is to offer help to others though his words, and this is primarily achieved by the structure and how the book is organized. Focusing mostly on family, the outdoors, and God, Lingerfelt displays his passion and zest for life in the poems that he has written, offering out fragments of how he sees the world to anyone who reads his work.
A collection of twenty-seven poems, Universal Defiance by Esther Franklin is a work that delves into the spiritual development of the human condition by relating it to the world around us. By examining the soul in terms of small everyday occurrences, and in comparing it to the cosmos in faraway space, Franklin’s poems offer a wide range of ideas and testimonies. The poet claims that we are born lost, only to find ourselves on the journey that is life, causing our belief systems to form in their own unique ways. The poet came up with the idea for this collection after experiencing a very common problem, and by thinking about how to resolve this issue in her life, she realized that we are all connected, and thus, affecting one another and the universe at large in a variety of ways. Exploring such themes as society, religion, self-worth, and the physical world, this collection of work offers a wide range of thoughts for the reader to ponder over.
Poems about issues like ‘Jealousy,’ ‘Strength,’ ‘Judgment’ and ‘Discord’ are intermixed with poems entitled from nature like ‘Water,’ ‘Air,’ and ‘The Surface’ thereby creating a sort of pattern to illuminate both the human spirit and the obstacles they have to overcome in this life. Franklin has a way with organizing her words into poignant and memorable stanzas, eliciting out both emotion and clarity from the poems that she so lovingly constructs. In conclusion, the collection rests on one final piece called ‘Endings’ which is a fitting title for the close of this work, as it asks the reader to contemplate what it is that we are all really searching for.
‘Sprouted Soul: Whole-Souled Poems’ by Doobie is a collection of thirty-four poems that explore the meaning of life. Each of these poems is very brief, coming in at just a half of a page between four and five lines. The words are coupled with brightly colored image of a scene of nature that is paired with the poem to evoke a sense of resolve in the reader. The pictures themselves depict trees in different stages of their cycles, ranging from singular trees standing alone in a snow covered field, to the rich colors of autumn leaves, to the lush colored greens of a thriving summer. The poetry itself reflects on the creator of our world, the God above who knows all, while also exploring the idea of a woman making her way through the trials and tribulations that we all come to face.
In a way, the poems in the collection ‘Sprouted Soul: Whole-Souled Poems’ that Doobie has so lovingly constructed flow into one another, telling a sort of story as the pages turn on. There is a consistency and an urgency that many poetry readers are sure to enjoy. Seeing as each poem is only a few lines, they almost stand as vignettes of what they could be, as there is not much elaboration or time to reflect, as the reader will find it somewhat difficult to find something to grasp onto. Nevertheless, there are many who find short, inspiring poems to be just what they need, and with the form Doobie has adopted for this collection, his reliability of style repeats itself again and again to create a memorable pattern.
‘Poems’ by D.M. Dickson is a collection of forty-four poems written in short lines, varying in tone but often focusing on the idea that one should never give up, regardless of the struggles we are forced to face. As Dickson states in the poem, ‘Phoebic,’ “I fight! Damnation fogs the eye. Flogs your flow. My will…streams up stream, I know…” These poems are filled with emotion and heartache, but they also reflect back upon the self, as they contemplate the different aspects of life we deal with during our separate journeys as human beings. Certain poems like ‘Larry’ and ‘Kats’ tell a story, stories that are most likely true account from the poet’s own life. The way the words are written within this collection leave a lot up to interpretation, but that is part of the joy taken out of them, as they are simple enough to make you wonder, all the while painting a certain picture in your mind as you delve deeply within the letters that they are made up of.
The juxtaposition between pieces offers a way to keep the reader on their toes, as the poem ‘So’ is mostly hopeful and includes details of a reunion, while the next poem that follows after it, ‘Shackle’ urges the reader to give it time and let things happen of their own accord even if things aren’t happening in the way they are wished to occur. As the collection goes on the work seems to reflect deeper meanings and a more refined writing style. It is not clear if the poems in the book were written chronologically or not, but as the narratives of the pieces ramp up towards the third quarter of the section, they become detailed and intricate. Nevertheless, the last three poems in the collection are some of the shortest, suggesting that perhaps the most poignant of poems don’t have to be the longest. ‘Poems’ by D.M. Dickson is a thoughtful collection of words, with variety, simplicity, and messages that matter.
A Love Life Lived is a collection of forty-one poems written by Josh Hart. The poetry focuses on a variety of topics, but pulls inspiration from Hart’s eight year discernment to enter the Catholic Priesthood. These written pieces also reflect on the poet’s work with young adults, as well as his efforts to overcome his thirty-seven year battle with Cerebral Palsy. It is clear from his words that he is a man of faith, and through his poetry Hart examines what it means to be human, through our times of struggle, triumph, and tribulation. While some of his poems tell short stories, others are self-reflective, turning the reader to look within themselves as they digest the phrases that the poet has placed upon the page. Some of the strongest poem’s are God’s Land, When Problems Mount, Ambassadors, Areola’s of the Soul, and the one line poem, Living, which is a force all upon itself with its simple yet heart-wrenching delivery.
Some of the poems included in this collection could be considered old-fashioned in nature, as the choices of word and writing style often brings about a recollection of the old English style of writing, with reveries of different dialects, and apostrophes present that sometimes elicit a warm feeling as you read. Yet others are modern in nature, telling tales of the day to day realities that we all have to face. It is clear that Hart pulls from his own life experiences to write his poetry, and that is why his pieces resonate so deeply, his life offering itself up as a sort of sacrifice so that the words can come forth. This is a startlingly good collection that shows the wide range of this poet, whose humanity is collected in a well organized and affecting form.
English-Speaking Chinese is a short collection of seven poems by poet Can Zheng, who explores what it is like for International Chinese students to study English in foreign lands. Zheng contemplates the idea that these students become estranged from their first language of Chinese as they immerse themselves fully into the English language and culture, thus becoming strange to other Chinese citizens who do not sway from their homeland in such a way. ‘Root’ debates the actual idea of travel and where we belong, ‘English-Speaking Chinese’ illustrates how much these students change as even their journal entries are now written in English, while ‘Authentic Chinese’ contemplates what it means to travel to different places in the world as a Chinese citizen. ‘Grammar Breaker’ plays with words and meanings, ‘Pretension’ wonders about how we aim to understand one another, while ‘Stride Father’s Song’ is a lyrically written poem that reflects its beautiful depictions of description upon the reader. The collection closes with ‘Spine’ which is the longest poem, broken down into three sections. This poem is by far the most compelling, as it entrenches itself within the ideas of how we communicate through our use of language, and our bodies, to bring about a meaning to what we wish to say.
Zheng’s words play games with fate as she constructs beautiful prose about what it feels like to be a member of the English-Speaking Chinese community that exists today. Although her poems are not overly complex, she succeeds at bringing across deep meanings in all of the poems that she so lovingly writes. The passion for her poetry and her place in the world as an English-Speaking Chinese is so apparent on the page. This collection, though brief, is bound to remain within the mind of anyone who reads it, not only those who connect with it on a personal level, but with everyone who ponders over the ideas Zheng so expertly offers up.
Out of the Cocoon, Are You the Butterfly? by Can Zheng is a simple and beautiful collection of twenty-one short poems that reflect on the changes we all go through, and the perseverance we must hold onto, refusing to allow ourselves to give up. Zheng prefaces her poetry by explaining that English is her second language, which gives a whole new element to her words, as we realize they are coming from a place where other foreign words first originated for her. Her inspirational poems offer up ideas about creating a new self, and how one can move forward in life without being held back from the hardships that come our way. Right from the beginning, with the poem ‘Cope with Fate’ Zheng tells the reader through her words to not let fate drag the spirit down in a direct way. ‘The Letter,’ the next poem in this collection is more vague and philosophical, showing from the beginning that Zheng’s poetry varies in style and tone. Some of the strongest poems of the collection include ‘Lunar Eclipse,’ ‘Black Bunny,’ ‘Net,’ and ‘Rebirth.’ The collection ends with the poem ‘My Affirmation’ which repeats the word grateful over and over again, while mixing in other similar and opposite words to go up against it, showing that Zheng is thankful for the way her life has progressed.
This is a very readable collection of poetry, not only due to the shortness in length of the poems, and the number of pieces included within, but because of the way Zheng couples her words together, creating a symphony of emotions across the page. This collection could help lift someone’s spirits who was feeling down or depressed, as the words offered are the kind that urge you to keep moving forward, no matter the costs. Zheng has a talent for this kind of writing, and as her title so aptly suggests, her poetry causes the reader to contemplate who they are going to be.
‘Until Tomorrow Comes’ is a journey through poetry, put together in an entrancing way by poet LaDonna Marie. As the author describes in the introduction of her book: “poetry is an outlet for the heart, always seeking to enrich perspective.” The poems contained within this collection take the reader on a journey, through growth and awareness, as the complications of life aim to hinder our dreams. The pieces within are motivating and inspiring, urging the reader to look at their life in a positive light, even if at times it seems impossible to do so. LaDonna asks the reader to take an expedition with her through the words she shares, begging them to seek out the root of the problems they are facing, and challenge themselves to take their hardships head on. The collection is broken down into six main sections: Lost, Lover Scorned, Encouragement, Eyes Wide Open in Love, I’ve Arrived, and The Closure. There are many standout poems, but some of the best are Yearning, The Chase, and I’m in Love With Love.
The reason this book of poetry succeeds at what it sets out to do is because the issues discussed are the kinds of things that everyone goes through. LaDonna has put together a book of poetry that all sorts of different women will be able to relate with. Her words are strong, but her voice is even louder, as she crafts poetic pieces of triumph. Some of the poems are rather short, but everyone packs an emotional punch. The poems included in this book fit together well, and are organized neatly into sections, the love and turmoil spread evenly throughout, building to a riveting conclusion that causes the reader to reflect upon their own lives.
Tragic Wonders, edited by Ninja and Adolphus Writer is a collection of short stories, essays and poems that ponders over the difficult notions that life so often delivers to us. The words written on the page deal with situations which put the characters in distressing circumstances, often forcing them to face their deepest fears in order to overcome the problems at hand. This book causes the reader to evaluate how they view themselves and the world around them through these collected narratives. The title is fitting for the elements that make up this book, as most of the stories combine both components of wonder and tragedy. Through twenty-one stories, two poems, and eighteen essays, the voices of all of the contributors collide in one massive heap, resulting in a delectable conversation about how things are, and if there is any real way to change how things are meant to be.
This is not your average book, as the stories and essays contained within vary a great deal in tone and theme. Nevertheless, the overall messages of trying to search for meaning, and going out into the unknown to find something more than what has already been discovered here on Earth, permeate the words that are constructed delicately on every page. The two poems that are sandwiched between the beginning section of fiction, and the ending portion of writers’ opinions are reflective points, which balance the collection nicely. This isn’t an easy read, but it is a rewarding one, as the stories are crafted with great care. All in all, if you are the kind of reader who likes to have their own assumptions on how reality truly exists questioned by the written word, then this is sure to be an enjoyable book for you.
Best Book of the Month – August 2013
Three Sheets to the Wind, a collection of twenty-two poems by Kevin Pocock includes poetry that reflects on time, space, and how our surroundings can truly affect us. As he states in the preface to this collection, a lot of the poems were written during his time at university, as he explored and drank in the experiences of living in a Welsh town on the edge of the sea. The poems presented within these pages are constructed in a precise and delicate manner, the lines match one another in a melodic way, creating a tune as the rhymes and words couple together in a pleasing arrangement. A recurrent theme presented is the idea of belonging, and how certain elements of life try to fit in, often in ways that are not what is typical. Some of the strongest pieces are My Sonnet, Bitter-Like-Sweet, and Identity Crisis. The poems themselves are only loosely correlated with one another, but they function together well to create a collection that is a quick and enjoyable pleasure for the reader to swallow.
It is clear from the poems presented in this work that Pocock takes great pride in his craft. He has the ability to construct short poems that hold significant meaning. Some of his poetry is light in tone and almost comical, while other pieces are reflective and cause the reader to contemplate their own lives. His inspirations come from the places, people and things around him, but that does not limit the scope of his words, as they are so thoughtfully placed and arranged together, that their meanings can apply to a variety of situations. Pocock is a skilled poet, and his debut collection of poetry is certainly a book worth reading.
Poetry often produces very vivid images as you read over the words that the poet has put together on the page in front of you. In a collection of poetry entitled Mole Hills, by Jeanie M. Herold, she does more than just create a picture with her vibrant descriptions and rhymes, she couples her poems alongside beautiful photographs that accentuate her words and create a sense of calming balance. It is clear from her heartbreaking words that Herold has suffered loss in her life, but it is through the beauty of the natural world that surrounds her that brings about a strong sense of faith and the will to persevere even when times are hard. The poems in this collection often focus on the outdoors, especially animals, foliage and the changes that go on in the sky. The poems connect well with the images, such as with ‘This Old Bridge’ and ‘Oh My Soul.’ The poem, ‘Just What You Know’ is an especially whimsical rhyming piece that is paired with a fun photograph of a cardinal sticking his head out from behind a fence.
This collection contains a lot of images of birds, so it would be great for any bird enthusiast who enjoys poetry. The photographs are all very delightful, and the poems are quick, easy reads, that people of all ages can enjoy. It would be great as a coffee table book, or as a present to someone who enjoys nature. Herold has a way of using her words in simple and concise ways to elicit about a significant meaning, which is a talent that not a lot of poets have. The brilliant colors of her photographs shine through, just as her words do, in this excellent book of poetry.
The Effects of Love by John Patrick Gatton contains a mixture of over 400 poems, short stories, and anecdotes that offer favorable ideas about how living your life with strong Christian beliefs can be beneficial for both the body and mind. Gatton explores the different ways that Christianity affects our lives, our neighborhoods, and our world as a whole. His book is broken down into twenty-seven different sections, ranging in title from ‘About Jesus and Mary’ to ‘Life is a Journey’ to ‘Poems Honoring People I Know’ and ‘Thoughts About Stuff.’ The content included in this collection ranges through a variety of topics, but the themes that are presented all fit together nicely.
This book works well in the fact that you don’t have to read it from beginning to end in a chronological way. Each part can function as an enjoyable piece of writing on its own, even if not paired together with the other pieces. It seems like this book was mostly written for the author’s family, as he even posts some of their praise in the beginning of the book, but, nevertheless, some of the ideas he offers in his poems and short stories are the kind that apply to all. His writing makes the reader reflect on religion, and how important it is to have faith. There are certain stories and poems that have great merit and cause the reader’s mind to wonder what life is all about. In his book, The Effects of Love, Gatton constructs a work that causes the reader to ponder about their own beliefs.