Sunday, February 08, 2009

Reviews of two new poetry collections by Suzanne Owens

Over the Edge by Suzanne Owens
Pudding House Publications, 2007

Reviews by Barbara Thomas

Suzanne Owens first poem is a poignant reflection of her childhood and the event of her father’s betrayal greatly influences the trajectory of her life. “This is what I remember…I keep hidden, as silent as a pocket knife, trying to carve the truth”. She brings back the anguish both she and her mother feel and continues this theme in “Keeping My Mother’s Tears” using the symbol of the music box. “I don’t want my mother’s tears to reign on me…I have my own box now, a strong box, hidden away. “ Her poetry is evocative without being sentimental. She tells the truth of betrayal and tragedy as it is. Other poems document her mother’s decline and the continuing tone is a deep sadness. After her mother’s death, she writes about her son in “Mites versus Pee Wees”. In this poem about a mother’s concern, the metaphor of a hockey game adds a new vigor, “Did I forget your white horse…Have I dressed you in armor too soft for this battle?” The reader is in the game too hoping he wins. In the wonderful last poem the poet takes us to another sphere as she reflects on life and death. “But if the history of the earth is an hour, and we have existed no longer than a millisecond…I ask you why, why do we unlock our souls to write of it with music.” And in this book Suzanne does write about her deepest experiences with music that invokes us to listen.

Harvesting Ice by Suzanne Owens

Finishing Line Press, 2008
In her latest book ‘’In Harvesting Ice”, Suzanne Owens reveals at this stage of her live, she is open for love, but reluctant. “I am territorial, and I don’t find it easy to give away my heart.” In “Thirst” she faces her fear when she finds “her files trashed and her life suddenly empty. ‘’ And then takes us on a journey thru various relationships, and moves before she finds home again.
As in her first book, she writes without sentimentality ; her language precisely capturing intense emotion. She is skillful in weaving imagery and form which make the poems memorable. Many times her imagery startles as in “Gone The Cross-Country”. “ I will be grass growing, and water. Even now, a tree is pumping my blood. ‘’ “Matinee”, captures her ongoing spirit of hope in spite of adversity and this thread of optimism resonates throughout the book. “ All we can keep, small splendors sealed in our heads: a few words voiced or read: the bridge of flowers, thunder, arms thrown out in a welcome gesture. “

*Barbara Thomas is a writer residing in Cambridge,Mass. She worked for many years as an English teacher in the Boston Public Schools. She is a member of the literary organization the "Bagel Bards" that meets in Somerville, Mass.

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