Publisher and Publication Date: Cider Press Review. January 20, 2021. Genre: Poetry. Pages: 73 written pages and illustrations. Format: Paperback. Source: I received a complimentary paperback copy from the author and publisher. I am not required to write a positive review. Audience: Poetry readers. Rating: Very good.
Passiflora is a collection of poems about our day-to-day struggles with loss, raising children, relationships, aging and creating art, and how the nature that surrounds us informs how we view these challenges and sometimes serves as a source of solace.
Passiflora is a lesson to me to never read a poem quick. The first time I read through the book at a quick pace. The second and third times slower. I let the words trickle through me. I let those words savor a bit in my mind. I am fond of nature in poems. Passiflora uses the natural world to compare and express other parts of life like relationships.
Since I’ve had breast cancer, I can relate to the poem on page 18, “Sunday.” I know it’s an uncomfortable subject. People wonder what they can do and automatically think about providing a meal. While reading this poem I can feel the discomfort, the things unsaid, and the dare to follow through with just being there as a friend.
Another favorite poem is on page 26, “Eve: After the Fall.” I’m amazed at the introduction-the shift-the use of words bringing in the second child-“he.” It is beautiful and moving.
The form or structure of the poems is noticeable. The stanza arrangement. The pause of spaces. These are on purpose. I love this.
I love the illustrations included in the book. I wish there were more. They are botanical drawings.
The front cover of the book is a photograph by Grace Kellogg. It is a close-up view of the pistil and stigma in a blooming plant-possibly a flower. These are the areas that germinate and produce.
Publisher and Publication Date: Rabbit Room Press. 2018. Genre: Short stories. Fiction and nonfiction. Poetry. Pages: 252. Source: Self-purchase. Audience: Readers who love short stories, essays, nonfiction, and poetry. Eclectic readers. Rating: Excellent.
I do not review for them specifically. I happened to come across information about The Door on Half-Bald Hill on one of the pages I follow on Facebook. I have purchased all their books from The Rabbit Room Store and have chosen to review. After placing orders from them, I’ve been pleased with their prompt service.
My Thoughts: Several reasons why I love this volume and gave an excellent rating. ~I read the volume in ONE sitting-cover to cover. ~It’s a good mix of different writings that can please any type of reader. ~Pen and ink illustrations. ~Some of my favorites is a chapter on Vincent van Gogh. Another chapter is on the Country Music singer, George Jones. All of the poems, especially those by George MacDonald, Helena Sorensen, Chris Yokel, A. S. Petersen, Adam Whipple, Dawn Morrow, and G. K. Chesterton (actually that’s all the poetry contributors). The graphic illustrations from John Hendrix.
A great benefit of a volume of various types of writings is there is something for every type of reader.
Publisher and Publication Date: Alan Squire Publishing, an imprint of Santa Fe Writer’s Project, Distributed by IPG. March 1, 2020. Genre: Poetry. Pages: 72. Source: I received a complimentary paperback copy from the publisher, I was not required to write a positive review. Audience: Readers of poetry, especially female poetry readers. Rating: Excellent.
Summary: Girls Like Us is packed with fierce, eloquent, and deeply intelligent poetry focused on female identity and the contradictory personas women are expected to embody. The women in these poems sometimes fear and sometimes knowingly provoke the male gaze. At times, they try to reconcile themselves to the violence that such attentions may bring; at others, they actively defy it. Hazen’s insights into the conflict between desire and wholeness, between self and self-destruction, are harrowing and wise. The predicaments confronted in Girls Like Us are age-old and universal—but in our current era, Hazen’s work has a particular weight, power, and value.
My Thoughts: Reading this book of poetry provokes me. It reminds me of my experiences of the themes in this book. In the first poem, “Devices”. Various names are directed at females. For example: “dumb slut,” “frigid bitch,” “chick,” and “skirts.” The poem ends with this line: “We’ve been called so many things that we are not, we startle at the sound of our own names.” Most females can tell stories of the horrible names used against us to drag us down, belittle us, dehumanize us, and exert some kind of control. These names are often said in an attitude of, “oh, I was just kidding, you take things too seriously.” Men, not all men, because I’ve had females cat call me too, they all should be ashamed. It is not a way to makes friends. It is not a turn-on. It is not a solid and healthy way for any type of relationship. And, it’s annoying as heck. As a young girl I wanted to be liked and noticed, but not called-out. I did not want to be abused. Essentially that is what those words do: abuse. Several other poems resonated with me—they spoke big to my heart. “Against Resignation” “Blackout” “Eve at the Stop ‘n’ Shop” “Dictation” “Lucky Girl” “Free Fall” “Alignment” “Monarch”
What are the themes running through the poems? Not knowing who you really are, but desperately want to know. Hiding and covering up. Sexuality and being comfortable with it. Finding our voice. Transition and growth. Understanding and expressing emotions. Submission to something that is later regretted or questioned if a yes was ever given. Being told “it” is all in our head. No validation.
I made several marks in my copy of this book. It spoke to me. It reminded me of things way back in my past that hang on like a string from my clothing that can’t be pulled off…and if it is pulled what will pull with it?
About the Author: Elizabeth Hazen is a poet, essayist, and teacher. A Maryland native, she came of age in a suburb of Washington, D.C. in the pre-internet, grunge-tinted 1990s, when women were riding the third wave of feminism and fighting the accompanying backlash. She began writing poems when she was in middle school, after a kind-hearted librarian handed her Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind. She has been reading and writing poems ever since.