Review 4 star
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The Ache of Healing! 105 Sonnets of Love and Contemplations is a poetry book by Christine Maalouf Abi Najm that deals with sometimes painful human situations in an empathetic way. Every poem uses the sonnet format and the book’s four sections discuss romantic love (Roses and prickles), personality types (Spirits and souls), locations (Places), and feelings about God and life’s purpose (Contemplations.) Roses and prickles is the longest section with over 40 sonnets and it shows a kaleidoscope of emotions about love, including anxiety and jealousy. Places is the shortest, sketching in verbal watercolors of hometown, immigration, and war. The other two sections provide thoughts about the meaning of living a life that’s often very flawed and pensive reflections on types of people.
An interesting book, The Ache of Healing! 105 Sonnets of Love and Contemplations shows a good ability to apply the sonnet form to describe ordinary people experiencing real life. I found each one of Christine Maalouf Abi Naim’s poems told distinct stories in small nutshells that capture emotional moments in time. Each one added more to the book until it was a flowing river of people, places, and memories with the substance of a novel and the terseness of music. One detail that adds tremendously to the poetry as well is the personalized, often symbolic black-and-white picture that accompanies each sonnet and emphasizes its meaning. Through poems like “Tipsy!” “A cheater,” “His hair became white!” and “At a crossroad!” the author asserts her faith in God while remaining authentic to our troubled world and describing that world in a way that brings it close to home.
Review 4 star
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Reverberations II is a book of haiku poetry by author Charles E. Rawlings, M.D. J.D. It consists of over fifty poems each paired with a photograph with the intention that they balance each other and be two halves of a whole. The theme of the book is individual response to the poems in order to alter the vibrational patterns around the reader and improve their life journey. Mr. Rawlings explains that all our actions, including our thoughts, are part of quantum mechanics and are made of vibrating waves that can be changed or elevated by any activity, such as perceptions of things like these poems and accompanying images.
Reverberations II is a poetic experience I found to be very creative as I went about creating links between the haikus and their accompanying images. The idea was to expand my mind when I deciphered the connection between the images and the verses as they come together to locate a hidden idea, which is a very interesting and challenging way to read. In the verse Harmony (Of Contrasts) the focus of this book was described especially well: “Lines, Curves; Black, White; Spring, Winter, Merging Energy.” Color stood out to me as a feature as most of the pictures were of the natural world and buildings shown in stark sharp colors—lavender, teal, black and white, silver, pale yellow. Charles E. Rawlings captured for me just how interactive a book of poetry can really be. I was able to create my own story, in part, in my responses, while still keeping close to the framework of his original intent.
Review 5 star
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Just Her Poetry: Seasons of a Soul by D.L. Finn is a full-length book of poetry with high literary quality. It is divided into two halves, one about the healing beauty of nature and one about relationships and emotional situations. Part One—Just Her Poetry--talks about the seasons of the year in the spectacular scenery around the author’s home and contains a short set of vignettes called “Musings from the Back of a Harley,” detailing the thrill of motorcycle rides around the countryside. Part Two—Seasons of a Soul—explores emotions like sadness, hope, and insecurity in the face of destruction from human behavior and natural forces. There is also an area of poetry inspired by or excerpted from D.L. Finn’s other books, including a memoir, and some poems about the holiday season.
I really enjoyed Just Her Poetry: Seasons of a Soul. Rich in content and daily reality, the poems built on each other within each section to take up where the other poem left off. Much like writing chapters in a book of prose, D.L. Finn’s poetry is sophisticated storytelling. It grew in little images gradually to tell a complex story—a novel in verse. My favorite section was “Musings from the Back of a Harley,” a completely unique, distinct set of poetry where sharp edges of words brought the excitement of riding a motorcycle into verbal motion. Thought-provoking depth about the fragility of life appeared in other areas of the book, as in a series of poems (“Fire,” “We Wait,” “Wait,” and “Red Flag”) where fine writing brings the experience of living near forest fires into visceral, vivid clarity. Including some poems that connected into Finn’s other writings added more layers and was excellent for putting this book in context.
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.