Review 4 star
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When the Dark is Light Enough: Elegies for Anne is a book of approximately 70 poems by Don Gutteridge that praise his late wife of over fifty years and describe his memories of their life together. The emphasis is on their romance and above all the emotional intimacy and closeness that they shared. Many of the poems deal with nostalgia and flashback to important moments throughout the years, while others are reflective accounts of sorrow in the aftermath of her passing. Some of the most notable poems include “Bouquet,” a tender and beautiful romantic poem; “Big Town,” a wistful recall of fun times together; and “Embarcation,” which recounts how he found his wife had died.
Don Gutteridge is excellent at applying the craft of poetry to make a relationship between two real individuals become a reflection of everyone’s experiences on love and death. Anne through the verses becomes a poetic figure who represents someone that is deeply cared about and anyone suffering from loss will feel that some of their emotions have been expressed here. Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson are referenced as models for a couple of poems, but the elegiac poetry in When the Dark is Light Enough: Elegies for Anne echoes many classic poets who have written about death and love (including Milton, Shelley, and Arnold) in its unfailingly good ear for particular word choice and casting of human personalities as both abstract and specifically personal to create an intricate feeling that what has happened is not just the loss of one person, but is a universal grief that is part of the human life we all share.
Review 4 star
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Poems of Life, Love, and the Meaning of Meaning by Wren is a book of poetry about philosophy and ideas. It contains about 400 poems. As the title suggests, it is divided into three sections—the first, “Life,” is about regret for missed opportunities, mistakes that hurt people, and inability to communicate with others. Section 2, “Love,” is about romance and describes intense yearning for a woman who the poet avidly admires. The final section, “The Meaning of Meaning,” is about renewal and discusses self-healing through a transcendent plane of inward growth, advocating that fear and pain are illusions that balance Love, which is God and which resides in the universe and in all people.
Wren’s terse, slightly lilting type of verse guides like a focused laser through widely different topics, anchoring them with subtle verbal acrobatics into a pleasant and cohesive unit. Poems of Life, Love, and the Meaning of Meaning is a volume of self-help advice in a poetic format, a unique concept that really delighted me, and I found it to be refreshingly analytical, with a dry and witty take on life that flashed out like lightning in a number of poems. Some of the best and most memorable pieces include “Dorothy Gale” and “Ego on Trial,” innovative breakdowns of familiar ideas with a personification of the Ego as its own individual outside of oneself, as well as the cleverly sarcastic “Dear God,” in which familiar concepts of living well are turned on a dime when it is learned the narrator is dead. A highly individual book that will be enjoyed by minds that like to roam the galaxy in brief poetic installments.
Seasons of the Soul by Nidhi Kaur
Review 5 star
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Seasons of the Soul is a collection of philosophical poetry by Nidhi Kaur. It has many eloquent, often short poems that show a relationship between a woman seeking love and a beloved she longs for and can also be used to describe a deeper search for peace and meaning in the stages of life. The book summarizes four “seasons” or life stages in the love journey and these four seasons are examined through intricate sets of poems that are paired with pictures, predominantly of leaves and flowers, to create a strong sensory experience. The seasons—Season of Longing; Season of Remembrance; Season of Love; and Season of Enlightenment—take the narrator and reader through a life journey of finding love.
The poetical quality of Seasons of the Soul is delicate and gentle. The broader spiritual growth that can be applied to this cascading waterfall of poems gives them a lot of depth and Nidhi Kaur’s writing merits close attention for the quiet elegance that is structured into each set of poems and images. While many poetry books use images effectively, few do so with as much skill as this one because the pictures act as little verses of their own, accompanied by individual longer poems or by tiny, brief verbal fragments strung along together to create a sophisticated experience. The comparison of the growth of love to the life cycle of a flower as it sprouts, bud, and blooms is carried through the whole book with strength and energy, and there are touches of beautiful lyricism, as in the lovely verse “I have translated all of your silence into poetry.” Seasons of the Soul is a good expression of the inner spirit of a life that is continually growing.
This is the companion for Sarah Scheele's newsletter blog. In it I share reviews for books I'd recommend/are similar to my own.