One Chapter, One Poem is a book review of sorts. It’s kind of like the Gong Show, where I read only the beginning of a book, and decide if it’s intriguing enough to continue reading. All of the books were borrowed from a public library.
I’ve met Dolen in person a few times. She local-ish and so she does a lot of literary events that are close enough for me to attend. And I go because I enjoyed her first novel, but also because she’s smart and I like hearing what she has to say about the literary world and writing. Basically, she’s my friend in my head. I mention that so you’ll know that I cannot be objective about her writing. However, I read the first chapter of Balm and am confident that I’ll finish to find out what happens to Madge, Sadie, and Hemp. The writing is so dang pretty.
Whew. After I read the prologue of Ordinary Light I had to take a break. It’s been a few years since my father transitioned, but Smith’s writing about her mother’s death, brought me too close to my sad feelings. I want to know how she’s managed to deal with it. I want to know how her experience has inspired the poetry she’s written, so I will have to let some of the sadness stay with me. It’s a thick book at 368 pages, so I’ll have to renew it (and possibly check it out again) before I’ll be able to finish.
Book of Hours is a great pairing with Ordinary Light because it also deals with the death of a parent. The first poem, “Obsequies” – yes, I had to look for the definition of that word – encouraged me to flip through the rest of the book to see what other gems were inside. I don’t often read poetry collections in a linear fashion. I flip through and look for line breaks or titles or something to grab me and read it randomly. If this book was mine and not a library book, I’d check off each one I read and possibly read 75 percent of this book, over the course of a month. From the taste test I had, it appears to be a solid collection.