Dog Songs by Mary Oliver
Five out of five Paws
When I asked for help to find this in the bookstore, the employee was enthusiastic, inquisitive, and he told me that I would love the poet. I just wanted to share that because it made me smile and think about the value of brick and mortar stores. I’ve worked at a chain bookstore and it was the only job I ever truly enjoyed.
Back to Mary Oliver: I had never read her which is kind of shameful as she won the Pulitzer, but I suppose there are too many writers out there for me to know everyone. This book was on my to-read list after it was recommended to a grieving dog parent. I had actually been interested to know if anyone was writing “good” dog poems. I should know better than to ask such things of poetry.
Well, the bookstore employee was right. I did love this book. I even devoured it in only a few hours which never happens anymore. It made me cry. Books never make me cry.
I am aware that this review has become merely an overview of my visceral response rather than any thoughts on writing style or whatnot but I’d like to think that saying “this book broke and mended my heart” is review enough.
Wild Becomes You by Ashley Sapp
Five out of Five Paws
It’s about friendship and grief and depression. It’s about the beauty of nature and our bodies’ literal and figurative place on Earth. It’s about love.
This chapbook is timely. I feel intensely like it embodies the struggles and thoughts of the older millennial (as much as I hate that word). But then, it is not so rooted in the year 2017 that those from other and future generations won’t be able to relate. Honestly, a couple of poems (those particularly about the loss of friendship) hit me so hard and so exactly square in my chest that I stopped reading for awhile. But it was nice, so nice, to feel un-alone in such a situation that makes a person feel very isolated.
Sometimes I fear that mental illness (especially depression) and the notion of empowering the self (in particular, women) has become trendy. I have read some poems lately that felt bland and obvious. Ms. Sapp’s writing, her words and metaphors are unique. She makes you think about some of the things that others are talking about too, but she makes you see them in a whole new way.
I just really enjoyed this. And I hope, and also know, that Ms. Sapp will go far.
Your Soul is a River by Nikita Gill
Three out of Five Paws
I discovered Nikita Gill on Instagram. I loved her content. The short poems were inspirational. My favorites spoke womanhood and the wolf. Of embracing the wild in you. One spoke so closely to my soul, that I have decided to tattoo it on my back someday.
Needless to say, I was excited to grab this book.
While three stars is not a bad review, I was expecting to read a five star quality chapbook. I was a little disappointed.
The book was divided into sections by theme, which would be fine and is not particularly unique, only here it serves to emphasize that Gill’s poems are very repetitive. Having motifs in your poetry is good, but Gill needs to find different ways, different words, to say similar things. As it stands now, the repetition of words and even phrases make the work bland and a little tedious.
That being said, the great poems in this collection are outstanding and the book itself is beautifully put together. The poetry is easy to understand (obvious sometimes, as a downfall) but I am a champion of accessible writing. Whatever it takes to get people to read.