Among The Lost (In Dante’s Wake) by Seth Steinzor | Poetic Book Tours

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Synopsis from GoodreadsAmong the Lost, set in the modern American rust belt, is a meditation drawn from Dante’s Purgatorio. To Dante, Purgatory was the mountain where souls not damned went after death to cleanse themselves of sin in preparation for entering Paradise. What, Steinzor asks, are we preparing ourselves for, having lost the fear of hell and the hope of heaven, in the course of our daily urban existence? And whatever that is, how do we go about preparing for it?

Publisher: Fomite Press

Date Published: November 2016

Date Read: January 2017

Source: Poetic Book Tours

 

REVIEW

 

As part of Poetic Book Tours I was asked by Serena if I would be willing to join in reading and reviewing Among The Lost, I have always been a fan of Dante’s Circles of Hell, and after learning that Among The Lost is inspired by Dante’s Purgatorio, I knew then I have to be a part of this Book Tour or I will probably regret it. Seth Steinzor’s poetry is rich and on point. Often times there’s no beating around the bush, he writes what needs to be said, with such gusto and precision that you can help but pause and ponder on the truth it was revealing. And the truth was, our existence had been tainted with mostly horrible and unimaginable things. The book was divided into different Canto, where our narrator encounters different scenario and different people with varied dilemma or varied traits. It was heavily political and realistic at the same time, which at times hard to get into but once you get the hang of it, it will be something you truly appreciate. Among the Lost used modern setting to juxtapose those of ancient times, which was truly remarkable. Seth Steinzor “modernized” a classic many of us loved. He concoct his poetry into something relevant and timely, something one could identify with.

I have not read the first book, so I had no way of comparing them. This poetry book may not be for everyone, at times I get confused on certain references, thus making it hard for me to completely grasp what was being conveyed. In the same vein I could not fully recommend this one to those people who are just beginning to appreciate poetry as this one may not be as engaging, but then it is something worth a try, especially to the ones who wanted to read more in depth portrayal of government and the society. But one thing I have to say – Seth Steinzor’s writing style is truly magnificent. He had a way with words that made the book more appealing and it was a bonus that this book was told in story form following the journey of the narrator from one specific stage or path onto another.

I specifically liked this excerpt from his poem Canto VI: In the Clouds

Telling you of this brings it back to me as

if I were standing there! – and after

not too many heartbeats thinking this:

The sight of these two mammals enjoying so

fully the little they have in common should shame you to

weeping, America! How hard can it

be to care for one another? Your rich

begrudge your poor their mite. Your poor

begrudge each other. The ones in the middle fear

the ones below them, bend the knee to the

 

moneyed, and keep an eye on their neigbors. The space a

dollar takes is more than you would

spare the creatures around you. You’re free with this:

you shit your nest and everywhere else. You

stomp around the world with an anxious smile and a

big knife, taking whatever you

want, and whoever gets in your way had better

look to god for help. You wonder

why they hate you, who cried your name with longing…

About the Author:

Seth Steinzor protested the Vietnam War during his high school years near Buffalo, New York, and his years at Middlebury College, advocated Native American causes after law school, and has made a career as a civil rights attorney, criminal prosecutor, and welfare attorney for the State of Vermont. Throughout he has written poetry. In early 1980s Boston he edited a small literary journal. His first, highly praised book, To Join the Lost, was published in 2010.

Available on Amazon.

Rating: rating_3stars

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Nerdy Talks’ Top 16 Poetry Books of 2016

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Happy New Year guys! 2016 had been a roller coaster in the most literal sense. A lot can really happy in a year! But here’s to surviving that year and hoping that 2017 will be kinder.

So to end the year right and start yet another awesome and fruitful (yes I am claiming it), I’ll be sharing with you the Top 16 Poetry Books I have read this year. 2016 has been a year of discovering new poets, meeting one of them, and finding new favorites. It was an amazing year, literature wise. And I wouldn’t be ending the year without sharing with you the books that made me feel plethoras of emotions, may it be pure joy or immense pain. So without further ado, here are the poetry books that made it to my list. You  can also check my Top 16 Books of 2015.

 

1. Hai[Na]Ku and Other Poems by AA Patawaran

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Hai[Na]Ku and Other Poems by AA Patawaran

This book was one of the first poetry books written by a Filipino that I have read. I was never exposed to Filipino poetry and that is the problem I need to remedy sooner rather than later. We have a rich culture and it is just right to read more of it and give the appreciation that is due them. Hai[Na]Ku and Other Poems is a great place to start, Sir AA Patawaran had the gift of putting relevance and humanity in his poems. Hai[na]ku is about celebrating life, reflection of the society through certain places and certain norms, it was about love, too, it was so much more than what it is. You have to read it out loud, savor the words in your very mouth, because that’s the best way to taste the beauty of it.

__

Excerpt from his poem It’s Not What I Thought:

I used to think that love was simple; that it was all a matter of finding it, until I found it – and it’s harder because , unless I constantly work on it, I feel as hollow as I feel full, I feel unsure as I feel certain, I feel as lost as I feel found.

xx

I used to think that sadness was a form of self-indulgence, until I got depressed – and it’s harder now when I feel sad because, long swept under the rug, cast in the shadows, dismissed and denied, the emotion feels so strange, so foreign, so unexplored.

I used to think that happiness was the result of good things happening, until I found happiness on the bleakest day, like a ray of light in the darkest night – and it’s harder, much harder now to know that, no matter what happens, no matter how great my sorrows, no matter how terrible my tragedies, happiness will always be a choice.

2. Lace Bone Beast by N.L. Shompole

51fajkccjml  Lace Bone Beast is more than what its synopsis tells you about. Though it is not officially released yet, fret not, it will be available by the 10th of January, thanks to the publishing team, editor and NL Shompole for providing me an advance copy. If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t know the brilliance of this collection of poetry.

Let me first put the blurb for you guys, so you would know what you are in for:

Here is emptiness. Here is a mouth after a recent excavation, black with soot, devoid of kisses. Here are hands, trembling against the soft ache of morning, here are eyes, wet, wide, half-full of sky and loneliness. Here is belly, back, femur, spine, ragged and smooth all at once, all at once. Here are dreams, ink black and speckled, lost behind the eyes. Here is a muted elegy, crow’s feet feathered over the eyes like lace. Here are the last strains of a dirge, wild, discordant, free.

The play on words was simple yet with impact. Raw yet sincere. There was beauty to it that I cannot fully assess, something that enthralls you without overdoing it. I loved how it sounded personal to the author yet fully relatable. If you are a fan of Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey and The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace then this book is right up your alley.

Here are some of the poems I adored:

no one is coming to save you & other fairytales for wicked children

There will be blood

there will be tears
there will be despair
there will be days so dark
they bleed into night
each undistinguishable
from the other
There will be storms
there will be ruin
there will be wreckage
there will be fire
that will raze the everything
down to the bone, down to ember,
down to ash.
& if you want it 
there will be hope
only if you want it,
only if you want it.
the heart is a casket for forgotten things

Love the body through

all the stages of ruin, and
resurrection.
 
Love the body through
the dark winter, and
into spring.
 
Love the body
for it has housed you
through the collapse, and
the catastrophe.
meditations & other mantras for the soft-hearted
When you are offered magic, take it. When you are offered joy, curl your fingers around it, revel in it. Drink, until your stomach is stretched full against the jagged edge of your ribcage. when you are offered love, accept it. Even if it os only for a day, an hour, even if it’s only for a second.

3. Prelude to Bruise by Saeed Jones

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Prelude To Bruis has got to be one of the most powerful and evocative poetry book I have read this 2016. Saeed Jones works as editor of BuzzFeedLGBT. This collection of poetry hits you with such impact that will leave you in awe. The way every poem was phrased and the way it tells a story, made you feel it under your very skin. It was an amazing poetry book tackling the issue of sexuality, gender and race, and all the struggles that go with it. I wouldn’t deny, this book gave me goosebumps. Saeed Jones’ voice offers something different, it was bold and brave, never hiding its message into subtleties neither sugar coating them, it was what it was, and it is damn beautiful.
Here’s a poem I loved:

 

Cruel Body

You answer his fist and the blow
shatters you to sparks.
Unconscious is a better place, but swim back in yourself.
Behind a door you can’t open, his drinks 
to keep loving you,
then wades out into the blue hour,
Still on the floor, waiting for your name 
to claim your mouths,
Get up. Find your legs, leave.

4. Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

23513349Were you surprised to find milk and honey here? Nah. I think it is already a given. 2016 was a great year for Rupi Kaur’s book, it is literally everywhere, read and adored by many, (me, definitely included). At first I tried to resist to buy a copy, I don’t know why, but I’m not one to join in a hype. I can’t even remember what pushed me into actually getting myself a copy, but I am happy I did. This collection of poetry, though simply written, provides you with sense of empowerment and at the same time a feeling of melancholy. Rupi Kaur’s poetry is proven to be universal, fully relatable and speaks of everyone’s heartbreaks and struggles without losing its essence. It talked about every facet of human life, especially that of women – from love, loss, despair, femininity and everything in between. I say it is a must read for everyone, especially when you are new to poetry, this is a good place to start. And though I was not completely in awe of the depth of Rupi Kaur’s poetry, I did not miss the simplicity of her poetry and the message it was sending across. I can’t wait to read more of her works and see her talent evolve into a more profound work of art.

5. Dear Almost by Matthew Thorburn

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Dear Almost is another one of a kind collection of poetry. I never thought I would love it so much, especially when the poems revolve around the immense pain of parents losing a child due to miscarriage. It wasn’t something I went through, but the way the author had put together the words, I couldn’t help but feel what the people in the poems actually felt. And that was the beauty in it, the way it was able to transcend despite the utter difference in the situation of its readers. There was something raw and heartrending that warranted a positive response from me. Matthew Thorburn wrote each poems with full emotions without any reservations, it was pure and sincere. You can not simply miss the way it was able to touch a person in ways only good poetry can.
Here is a poem I loved:
So give me a sign if
you’re out there, if you’re
the light swaying, swinging
between trees, that light
growing faint, drifting deeper
into the shadowy woods,
if you’re that pale glow between the elms and alders.
What star do you steer by?
Where are you going?
Tell me you can hear this
if that’s you who pauses
beside a ragged oak,
head cocked to one side
like a doe, light bouncing back
from your dark eyes,
if that’s you moving under
starlight and moonlight,
waiting for a gauze of cloud
to dim the worldso you can slip away
once more. Tell me, are these
your footprints I find
in the morning in the dark
wet earth, faint traces
in the muck and loam
that slowly fill with water?

6. Bright Dead Things by Ada Limon

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Bright Dead Things is another exceptional collection of poems. It was just by accident that I found this one. I was in the mood for something uplifting and empowering, and when  I read the synopsis of this book and discovered that it was written by a known feminist, I just knew right then and there I need to read it, like one needs air in order to survive – and it was brilliant. It was beautiful in ways you cannot fully grasp. It is a reflection of every soul you encounter just as much as it is a reflection of your own. It was easily digestible and was not phrased in a way that is intimidating but at the same time still eloquent, perfect for new poetry lovers. Her poetry sticks with you, much like every lesson in life.
Here is a poem I loved:
Glow
In the black illegible moment of foolish want, there is also a neon sign flashing, the sign above the strip joint where my second big love worked as a bouncer and saved the girls from unwanted hands,
unpaid-for hands. Thin lipped ladies with a lot on their minds and more on their backs, loaded for bear, and for the long winter’s rain, loaded for real, and I’ve always been a jealous girl, but when he’d come home with a 4a.m. stomp in his boots and undress to bed, he was fully there, fully in the room, my sleeping body made awake, awake, and there was a gentleness to this, a long opening that seemed to join us in the saddest hour. Before now, I don’t know if I have ever loved anyone, or if I have ever been loved, but men have been very good to me, have seen my absurd out-of-place-ness, my bent grin and un-called-for loud laugh and gave wanted to love me for it, have been so warm in their wanting that sometimes I wanted to love them too.
And I think that must be worth something,
that it should be a celebrated thing,
that though I have not stood on a mountain under the usual false archway of tradition and chosen one person forever, what I have
done is risked everything for that hour,
that hour in the black night, where one flashing light looks like love, I have pulled over my body’s car and let myself believe that the dance was only for me, that this gift of a breathing one-who-wants was always a gift, was the only sign worth stopping for, that the neon glow was a real star, gleaming in its dying, like us all.

7. Today Means Amen by Sierra DeMulder

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I first heard of Sierra DeMulder on youtube, she was a known Spoken Word artist, I have watched few of her performances and was immediately drawn to her craft. Today Means Amen is a proof that DeMulder’s talent deserves every spotlight. I suggest that you watch her performances first before immersing yourself with the written words, I promise you would appreciate her more. Today Means Amen evokes positivity  amidst the chaos of our daily lives. It is the affirmation you needed to hear at the end of a cruel day. It was a beacon of light, but ultimately it was the amalgamation of every person’s trials and triumphs, of believing in a higher being and knowing one’s worth.
“Dear you, whoever you are, however you got here,
this is exactly where you are supposed to be.T
his moment has waited its whole life for you.
This moment is your lover and you are a soldier.
Come home, baby, it’s over. You don’t need
to suffer anymore. Dear you, this momentis your surprise party. You are both hiding
in the dark and walking through the door.

This moment is a hallelujah. This moment
is your permission slip to finally open that love

letter you’ve been hiding from yourself,
the one you wrote when you were little

when you still danced like a sparkler at dusk.”

8. Tuwing Ikatlong Sabado by Words Anonymous compiled by Juan Miguel Severo

Tuwing Ikatlong Sabado is another collection of 32710231-_uy1200_ss1200_poems by Filipino poets. These are originally spoken word poetry performed by various poets at Sev’s Cafe in Manila. What I loved about this collection is that it touches you in ways you didn’t know possible. There is depth, sense, flavor and more importantly heart. Should I dare say that this collection represent every plight of every human? May it be about heartbreak, sexual identity crisis, society’s ugly side, depression – this poetry collection got it covered.
Here are some of my favorites:
Dulo’t Simula
Transition Girl
Para sa Naghihintay at Naiinip
and Women Need Saving

9. Apology for Want by Mary Jo Bang

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Mary Jo Bang is a known poet for quite sometime already, and it is only in 2016 that I have learned about her. Apology For Want had a melancholic tone to it, something you could not simply miss, but also it had assertiveness . It was a perfect mixture of push and pull, of gentleness and aggressiveness, of longing and wanting. It was something that you would go back to over and over, for each poem takes on a different meaning every time you encounter them.
Here is a favorite poem from this collection:

Autopsy

How bare the soul – unmasked, deveined,
picked clean. How smooth the flesh
in death. Someone has arrived
to wash the dust away. Mulberry stains.
Indelible marks in hidden places.
Look at you. No longer resisting, unfolding
with ease; revealing scars 
from wounds that were slow to heal.
The body remembers. You never won
but dearly battled. The sky here
is streaked with tile.
The scientific community
and the mildly curious have all come
to watch. You bloom in this forest of white. 

10. Laws of My Nature by Margot Schilpp

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Margot Schilpp is another poet I honestly never heard of. (Oh the joys of discovering new poets!) Laws of My Nature if I am not mistaken is Schilpp’s second book of poetry, the first being The World’s Last Night. Laws of My Nature is a collection of poetry that was personal, something that builds connection from the author to its readers. A bond that you didn’t know existed until you turn the very last page. Her poems speak to you in an emotional as well as intellectual level.
 Here is a favorite poem from this collection:

Takeover

by Margot Schilpp

Heartsound: thunk and paddle
up the stream of appetitte that cloaks

me in sleep. In the split
of my personality, there’s you and

everything else, all the parallelograms
and missiles hiding in the silos.

Or deep, way down in the water,
you’ll find the torpedoes, their mischief

and fickle heads, thinking
about the kill, the kill. If

our nights together aren’t to be, why
play awake during the day?

Duck your head if you’re too tall
to enter the familiar

nothing of regret. You’ll fit.
You’ll fit nicely. I’m going

back to origami and the alphabet,
where order reigns. I’m going

back to original, where at least
I’ll have a sense of humor.

This life splits me:
one half, red. The other,

blue. Very red. Very blue.
But I can conjure. I can cast. I can bring

you in. The weeds in my garden
have it all over the perennial

 11. Love Poems by Pablo Neruda

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Of course I wouldn’t let the year pass without reading a work of my favorite poet of all time – Pablo Neruda. Love Poems   is about sensuality and sincerity of the poet’s feelings towards Matilde Urrutia. It was erotic yet romantic, you will fully understand the depth of Pablo Neruda’s emotions, adoration and devotion to his love. Again, it captivated me just as much as his other collection Twenty Love Poems and A Song of Despair. 
Here is an excerpt from one of my favorites
 Your Feet
“But I love your feet
only because they walked
upon the earth and upon
the wind and upon the waters,
until they found me.”

12. Double Shadow by Carl Phillips

61g4fuxe13l I have to admit, I have a love-hate relationship with Carl Phillips’ poetry. I already have read four of his collection namely: Tether, Speak Low, Double Shadow and Riding Westward. I adored Speak Low and Double Shadow,  however Tether and Riding Westward didn’t connect to me the way poetry should. Half of the time I have no idea what he was talking about, sometimes it felt like they are all just words all jumbled into one poem, but there are also times that his poetry leaves me in awe – just like his poems here in this collection. Double Shadow is lyrical and haunting. It is  about life’s contrasts, of how two shadows are cast from one origin.
Here is a favorite poem from this collection:
Clear, Cloudless

Tonight – in the foundering night, at least,
of imagination, where what I don’t in fact
believe anymore, all the same, is true –
the stars look steadily down upon me. I look
ip, at the stars. Life as a recklessly fed bonfire
growing unexpectedly more reckless seems
neither the best or worst of several choices
within reach, still. I wear on my head a crown
of feathers – among which, sure, I have had my favorites.
Fear, though, is the bluest feather,
and it is easily the bluest feather that the wind loves most.

13. Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver

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Mary Oliver is another known poet whose works I was just recently exposed to. I started this poetry book the very first week of 2016 and I think this was what set my great reading streak when it comes to poetry books. I should probably start another poetry book by her this January 2017. Hmmm.
Mary Oliver’s writing style is unique and captivating. She mostly uses animals and plants in her poetry, incorporating them as a metaphor for something profound and at times larger than life. The use of animals and the nature in her poetry simplifies her poems yet also gives off that comfortable vibe, something astounding and not pretentious. Why I Wake Early is an affirmation of everyday blessings that we often take for granted. Mary Oliver has a way of showing you the little things that are far more important that anything else.
Here is a favorite poem in this collection:
Some Things, Say the Wise Ones

Some things, say the wise ones who know everything,
are not living. I say
you live your life your way and leave me alone.
I have talked with the faint clouds in the sky when they
are afraid of being left behind; I have said, Hurry! hurry!
and they have said: Thank you, we are hurrying.
About cows, and starfish, and roses, there is no
argument. They die, after all.
But water is a question, so many living things in it, 
but what is it, itself, living or not? Oh gleaming
generosity, how can they write you out?
As I think this, I am sitting on the sand beside
the harbor. I am holding in my had
small pieces of granite, pyrite, schist.
Each one, just now, so thoroughly asleep.

14. The Truro Bear and Other Adventures by Mary Oliver

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The Truro Bear and Other Adventures is another of Mary Oliver’s brilliant work. This is another great collection of poetry about the nature and the beautiful creatures in it. And good god, I loved the poems about Percy! Mary Oliver’s poems are always a pleasure to read. Her poetry is something you always go back to over and over and each time is another fresh experience.

 

Here is a favorite poem in this collection:

 

I Ask Percy How I Should Live My Life
Love, love, love, says Percy.
And hurry as fast as you can
along the shining beach, or the rubble, or the dust.

Then, go to sleep.
Give up your body heat, your beating heart.
Then, trust.

15. Habang Wala Pa Sila by Juan Miguel Severo

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Habang Wala Pa Sila is another Filipino poetry book, as I have mentioned I am remedying my lack of exposure to Filipino poetry. Habang Wala Pa Sila  is a good place to start. Juan Miguel Severo is a known spoken word artist, and this collection of poem though written in such a simple way will still hit you where it is supposed to. Habang Wala Pa Sila solidifies the truth that every heartbreak and longing is universal, it may vary from one person to another but the immense pain or the sense of fulfillment of loving someone until it hurts is worth it. I have always been drawn to poems about love, it may be the easiest topic to write about but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the words are any less true.

16. The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson

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And of course this list wouldn’t be complete if a classic poet is not included. I have finally read The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson and she is loved by many and even idolized my most authors for a reason. Emily Dickinson’s writing is addictive. This collection is a good place to start if you want to know about Emily Dickinson’s poetry without being overwhelmed. I think I read this book in piece meal, I didn’t rush in finishing it as I wanted to savor all the words and the beauty and subtlety of how she perceived things, life and love.
Here is an excerpt of a poem I loved:
Life is but Life! And Death, but Death! 
Bliss is, but Bliss, and Breath but Breath! 
And if indeed I fail,
At least, to know the worst, is sweet! 
Defeat means nothing but Defeat,
No drearier, can befall! 
I hope you are able to find new poetry books to read! Here’s to hoping our 2017 will be filled with beautiful words and great stories! Have a lovely year ahead!
You can check my Top 16 Books of 2016 here.
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K. V. Dominic Essential Readings and Study Guide: Poems about Social Justice, Women’s Rights, and the Environment by K.V. Dominic: Book Review | Poetic Book Tours

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Synopsis from Goodreads“K. V. Dominic Essential Readings” gathers for the first time the three most important works of poetry from this shining new light of contemporary Indian verse in English: “Winged Reason,” “Write Son, Write” and “Multicultural Symphony.” A fourth collection of 22 previously unpublished poems round out a complete look at the first 12 years of Dominic’s prolific and profound verse. Each poem includes unique Study Guide questions suitable for South Asian studies curricula.
Written in free verse, each of his poems makes the reader contemplate on intellectual, philosophical, spiritual, political, and social issues of the present world. Themes range from multiculturalism, environmental issues, social mafia, caste-ism, exploitation of women and children, poverty, and corruption to purely introspective matters. From the observation of neighborhood life to international events, and everyday forgotten tragedies of India, nothing escapes the grasp of Dominic’s keen sense of the fragility of life and morality in the modern world.

Publisher: Modern History Press

Date Published: September 1, 2016

Date Read: November 2016

No. Of Pages: 284

Source:  Copy provided by Poetic Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Check it out on Amazon.

About the Author: Internationally acclaimed poet Prof. K. V. Dominic (Kerala, India) is the author of three major volumes of poetry about the natural world as well as social and political commentary: Winged Reason, Multicultural Symphony, and Write, Son, Write.

Review

RELEVANT AND THOUGHT-PROVOKING

We need more of this in the book community. This masterpiece had to be written, not just for the sake of empathy but more importantly for awareness. I always challenge myself with the books I read, there are books that are easy to read and will be forgotten in the years to come, but also there are books that would stay with you – this book is one of them. The beauty of how it depicted the pressing issues in the society that we live in, lyrical yet with impact. Something that had to be said over and over drilling it into the minds of the closed-minded ones. I commend how rich and how it was able to show the other side of what people usually miss out. It wasn’t just promoting awareness, but immersing ourselves into the reality that we face day in and day out. It was more of an invitation to do something about it, to finally stand up for what we believe in. Stand up for the things they often shut us out.

The poems varied from important social issues, to culture, women’s rights and yes even environment. You would easily notice the author’s persistence to make all these problems and all these issues be relevant, to be talked about and eventually resolve them, in whatever for it may come from. I commend that the author used his vast knowledge and experience in concocting a truly revolutionary work. I loved how he used the written words as medium to send the message across. It is as if it is a summon to awaken one’s sense to see past the veil of oppression and passivity. It was more than a collection of poems, it is a voice that demands to be heard.

Take the poem Mother’s Love for an instance.

Maternal love, love sublime

Inexplicable, unfathomable

Noblest of all emotions

Visible both on human beings

and other beings

xxx

Maternal love is transcendent emotion

Both human species

and other species possess

I am perplexed

by some sporadic disasters

A mother offering her

affectionate daughter

to please her lover’s sexual urge

How could she throw her dead child

to the hungry wold?

How could she suppress

the divine emotion of maternal love?

also the poem I Can Hear the Groan of Mother Earth

I can hear the groan of mother earth

being raped by her own beloved human sons

Having sucked all milk from her mountain breasts

quarry deep out of construction mania.

and this passage from the poem “A Nightmare”

A lavish wedding feast was served in the town hall,

rich delicacies heaped on the plates,

were relished by the pompous guests

I could see two ragged girls outside

struggling with the dogs in the garbage bin.

Now this poem is my favorite: Pleasures and Pains

Pleasures and pains;

two sides of a coin.

We toss it early morning;

majority gets the pains side.

Pleasures come like sprinkle,

while pains fall like deluge

and continue like monsoon.

Happiness is a mist

while sorrows shower like snow.

There was something so haunting about his poems. KV Dominic’s poems were written in such a manner that it is easier to grasp and fully digest, it was straight to the point without any reservations whatsoever. It was as honest as it could get. My ultimate favorite would be the whole collection of poems under Write Son, Write.

Now I could highly recommend this one for someone who wants to branch out to poetry and at the same time would want to immerse himself in social awareness and the present predicament that the humanity faces. This would be the perfect book.

Rating: rating_4stars

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Dear Almost by Matthew Thorburn: Book Review | Poetic Book Tour

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Synopsis from Goodreads: Dear Almost is a book-length poem addressed to an unborn child lost in miscarriage. Beginning with the hope and promise of springtime, poet Matthew Thorburn traces the course of a year with sections set in each of the four seasons. Part book of days, part meditative prayer, part travelogue, the poem details a would-be father’s wanderings through the figurative landscapes of memory and imagination as well as the literal landscapes of the Bronx, Shanghai, suburban New Jersey, and the Japanese island of Miyajima. As the speaker navigates his days, he attempts to show his unborn daughter “what life is like / here where you ought to be / with us, but aren’t.” His experiences recall other deaths and uncover the different ways we remember and forget. Grief forces him to consider a question he never imagined asking: how do you mourn for someone you loved but never truly knew, never met or saw? In candid, meditative verse Dear Almost seeks to resolve this painful question, honoring the memory of a child who both was and wasn’t there.

Publisher: Louisiana State University Press

Date Published: September 1, 2016

Date Read: October 5,2016

No. Of Pages: 88

Source: Copy provided by Poetic Book Tours

 

Review

Dear Almost is a painful depiction of how fleeting everything is – gone before you had the chance to grasp it into your hands. Matthew Thorburn will take us into the center of their grief and loss over their “almost baby girl”. I for one is not a parent yet, but you need not be one to understand and feel the depth of the emotion this poem conveys. This book attest to human’s attachment to other people, however brief or however long the relationship had been, or however real or just in “concept” it was. It is true what they say, it is more painful to let go of something that was never yours to begin with. It was told in a what-could-have-been concept. How their baby would have looked like had she reached this certain age, or how she would have reacted or what would she have liked had she grown up and experience everything that life has to offer. There was so much beauty in the way Matthew Thorburn portrayed it, it was vivid, making it all the more heartbreaking that it already was.

What went wrong

for no other reason, finally,

than that it didn’t go right.

Ours is the story of how

is became was and was became

wasn’t became no,

became not. The story of our

almost girl, our might’ve been.

It wasn’t just simply mere lamentation of parents, but it was a howl to the wind of something they have no control over – it was as though every grief and loss no matter in what form it came, is universal. You grieve over something that should have stayed a little longer.

So give me a sign if

you’re out there, if you’re

the light swaying, swinging

between trees, that light

growing faint, drifting deeper

into the shadowy woods,

if you’re that pale glow

 

between the elms and alders.

What star do you steer by?

Where are you going?

Tell me you can hear this

if that’s you who pauses

beside a ragged oak,

head cocked to one side

like a doe, light bouncing back

from your dark eyes,

if that’s you moving under

starlight and moonlight,

waiting for a gauze of cloud

to dim the world

 

so you can slip away

once more. Tell me, are these

your footprints I find

in the morning in the dark

wet earth, faint traces

in the muck and loam

that slowly fill with water?

Matthew Thorburn offers a profound understanding of what it is like to hold on to a memory and eventually come to terms with the loss. Through the change of the season, or the length of time that passed, it was ultimately something that would inevitably be a part of a person – their sadness and grief fuse with their persona making them a deeper and stronger version of themselves. Dear Almost engages the reader to feel the immense pain of undergoing such unfortunate loss, the regrets and plans made that will never come to fruition. The whole idea of the book appealed to me so much and couldn’t help but pass it on to other people, may they be poetry reader or not. Matthew Thorburn has earned a new fan in me.

 

Rating: rating_5stars

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The Type by Sarah Kay (Poem#24)

The Type

by Sarah Kay

 

If you grow up the type of woman men want to look at,
you can let them look at you
but do not mistake eyes for hands
or windows or mirrors.
Let them see what a woman looks like.
They may not have ever seen one before.

If you grow up the type of woman men want to touch,
you can let them touch you.
Sometimes it is not you they are reaching for,
sometimes it is a bottle,
a door,
a sandwich,
a Pulitzer,
another woman.
But their hands found you first.
Do not mistake yourself for a guardian,
or a muse,
or a promise,
or a victim,
or a snack.
You are a woman,
skin and bones,
veins and nerves,
hair and sweat.
You are not made of metaphors,
not apologies,
not excuses.

If you grow up the type of woman men want to hold,
you can let them hold you.
All day they practice keeping their bodies upright.
Even after all this evolving it still feels unnatural,
still strains the muscles,
holds firms the arms and spine.
Only some men will want to learn what it feels like to curl themselves into a question mark around you,
admit they do not have the answers they thought they would by now.
Some men would want to hold you like the answer.
You are not the answer.
You are not the problem.
You are not the poem,
or the punchline,
or the riddle,
or the joke.

Woman, if you grow up the type men want to love,
you can let them love you.
Being loved is not the same thing as loving.
When you fall in love it is discovering the ocean after years of puddle-jumping.
It is realizing you have hands.
It is reaching for the tightrope when the crowds have all gone home.

Do not spend time wondering if you are the type of woman men will hurt.
If he leaves you with a car alarm heart,
you learn to sing along.
It is hard to stop loving the ocean
even after it has left you gasping, salty.
So forgive yourself for the decisions you’ve made,
the ones you still call mistakes when you tuck them in at night.

And know this:
Know you are the type of woman who is searching for a place to call yours.
Let the statues crumble.
You have always been the place.
You are a woman who can build it yourself.
You were born to build.

Self-portrait with Hornets by Henri Cole (Poem#23)

Self-portrait with Hornets
by Henri Cole

Hornets, two hornets, buzz over my head;
I’m mapping and cannot keep my eyes open.
“Do you come from far away?” I ask, dozing off.
My gums are dry when I wake. A morning breeze
rakes the treetops. I can smell the earth.
The two hornets are puzzling over
something sticky on my night table
wiping their gold heads with their arms.
Ordinary things are like symbols. My eyes are watery
and blurred. Then I lose myself again.
I’m walking slowly in a heat haze,
my vision contracting to a tiny porthole,
drawing me to it, like flourishing palms.
I can feel blood draining out of my face.
I can feel my heart beating inside my heart,
the self receding from the center of the picture.
I can taste sugar under my tongue.
All the usual human plots of ascent
and triumph appear disrupted.
Crossing my ankles, I watch the day
vibrate around me, watch the geraniums
climb toward the distant mountains
where I was born, watch the blank worm
wiggling out of the window box,
hiding its head from the pale sun
that lies down on everything.
purifying it. Lord, teach me to live.
Teach me to love. Lie down on me.

That Night by Lang Leav (Poem #22)

That Night
by Lang Leav

It was one of those nights that you are not altogether sure what really
did happen. There are no photographs, nor receipts, no scaled journal entries.

Just the memory sitting in my mind, like a half-blown dandelion,
waiting to be fractured, dismembered. Waiting to disintegrate
into nothing.

As I close my eyes, the pictures play like a blurry montage. I can
see us driving for hours, until the street signs grew less familiar –
the flickering lamplights giving away to stars. Then sitting across
from you in that quiet, little Italian place. Your hands pushing the
plates aside, reaching across for mine.

The conversations we had about everything and nothing. And
kissing you. How I remember that.

It was one of those nights that my mind still can’t be sure of. That
wonders if I was ever there at all. Yet in my heart, it is as though
I’ve never left.