Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Review of IMAGES OF BEING, poetry by Diane Sahms-Guarnieri

Review of IMAGES OF BEING, poetry by Diane Sahms-Guarnieri, Publishing,, California, 85 pages, 2011, $7.95

Review by Barbara Bialick, author of TIME LEAVES

To Diane Sahms-Guarnieri, images are an all-important way she remembers people from her childhood and on into motherhood. Sometimes the images are unremarkable and common in their humanity; at other times they grab the reader with the immediacy of her dream about her child drowning… The book is also populated with her father and other relatives who made their living in the Philadelphia textile mill era and ended up victims of such poisons as asbestos—from unprotected work sites.

The poem “Machines, Machines, Monstrous Machines” shows the “ticking hours…spent walking aisles of machines …spitting fiber into textile air, damaging lungs/already filled from a daily pack of Pall Mall/…It was audible, not thunderous:/an oxygen machine breathed with him/…a talking body on a long permanent leash/machines, machines, monstrous machines/from living room bed to front door…”

Her father was insulted during her youth by her mother for his alcoholism. He took the author as a child to a bar in the poem, “Another Shirley Temple”. “I watch him empty/glass after glass of beer/talking about work, work/in the mill all night, night/while I sleep weaving dreams”.

Her mother has her revenge in “Snowman” where “mom hoses your art away/melting the snowman liquid as milk/into the petrified garden.”

In the preface to the book, the author states that she is an “urban poet” who lives in
Philadelphia. “Each life is made up of images: images that are uniquely our own and images that merge into the lives of others. We are all an image of our own being in the collective human experience defined as life…” she explains.

Her dreams are equally compelling as her memories. In “Child of Dreams” she recounts, “a child: streaming hair like anemones lifting/oyster-white face slow motion sinking/like one of Titanic’s forgotten children/…I grope for dangling limbs, seaweed hair/then I appear among green hills/without her as I hear children’s laughter/…A wiseman
tells me the child is safe…”

Sahms-Guarnieri does not provide a bio, but does acknowledge that these poems have been published by such journals as Many Mountains Moving, Southern Ocean Review,
Wilderness House Literary Review, Philadelphia Stories Magazine and Anthology, Mad Poets Review, Mid-West Cultural Council, Fox Chase Review, Autumn Sky Poetry,
Limited Editions and Folio, “among others.”

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:21 AM

    Good Review, however, this review only addressed the first 1/3 rd of sahms-guarnieri's book pertaining to childhood. The part the review didn't discuss was marriage gone wrong, love, and character poems. The part it did address put a different spin on her childhood poems. You never know how people are going to read a poet's work.