Tag: Books: Poetry

Review: Selected Poems

Posted 19 May, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Selected Poems
By: Marina Tsvetaeva
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

An admired contemporary of Rilke, Akhmatova, and Mandelstam, Russian poet Marina Tsvetayeva bore witness to the turmoil and devastation of the Revolution, and chronicled her difficult life in exile, sustained by the inspiration and power of her modern verse.

The poems in this selection are drawn from eleven volumes published over thirty years.

Marina Tsvetaeva is another one of those poets I’ve long heard about and indeed studied a bit about in relation to Soviet history and culture but never got around to reading works from until…well, now.

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Review: The Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson

Posted 18 May, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson
By: Emily Dickinson
Format/Source: Hardback; my purchase

Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts on December 10,1830, to a prominent family of academics, lawyers, and statesmen. Following her education at Amherst Academy and Mt. Holyoke Female Seminary, Dickinson embarked on her impassioned journey as apoet. Composing first in a fairly conventional style, the poetess soon began to experiment with her writing; her frequent use of dashes, sporadic capitalization of nouns, broken meter, and idiosyncratic metaphors made her work unparalleled for its time.

Dickinson’s poetry dealt not only with issues of death, faith, and immortality, but with nature, domesticity, and the power of language to transfer emotions into written text. An obsessively private writer – only ten of her some 1,700 poems were published during her lifetime – Dickinson withdrew from social contact at the ageof 23 and devoted herself to writingin secret. It wasn’t until her death in 1866 that the scope of Dickinson’s work was realized, when her sister Lavinia found her prolific collection in a dresser drawer.

Since this time, Emily Dickinson’s writing has had significant influences on modern American poetry; her complex use of language and form has contributed to her reputation as one of the most innovative poets of the 19thcentury. This collection of some of her finest works illustrates not only Dickinson’s talent as a writer but her profound love of language, nature, and life.

I read some of Emily Dickinson’s poems in passing a few years ago (a-ha! Found the review); didn’t think much of them at the time (these were my early days dipping into poetry) though I thought the poet and her life was rather interesting (fellow introvert and all). I think it was after reading Nuala O’Connor’s Miss Emily (review) that I thought I should go back and give Dickinson’s poetry another go.

Having read this collection, I’ve come to the conclusion that alas, I think Emily Dickinson’s poetry just isn’t for me. This collection is broken down to three series, depending on the time period in which they were written and published, and then further broken down depending on theme (life, love, time/death, nature). They vary in length and style–you could almost feel her experimenting with variations of imagery and rhyme and structure over the course of her poetry–and I think I’ve mentioned it before but her choice of imagery are rather curious.

Having said all of that, though, it’s purely personal preference that I say that her poetry just isn’t for me: her poetry doesn’t quite move me the way other poets’ works do, they don’t seize any great emotion from me. There’s no particular poem that stands out in memory for me. I do however appreciate how her poetry seems like a predecessor to much of the contemporary poetry that I’ve read in terms of going with your own structure and style, so there’s that. I’m glad to have revisited her work again, but I think that’s it for me and Dickinson’s works for now.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Learn more about the poet on Wikipedia || Order this book from the Book Depository

Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 11 May, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Mini-reviews seem to be my friend these days 😛 Included in this post are reviews for the following titles:

Sonnets from the Portuguese
By: Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Format/Source: Hardback; my purchase

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was a prolific writer and reviewer in the Victorian period, and in her lifetime, her reputation as a poet was at least as great as that of her husband, poet Robert Browning. Some of her poetry has been noted in recent years for strong feminist themes, but the poems for which Elizabeth Barrett Browning is undoubtedly best know are Sonnets from the Portuguese.

Written for Robert Browning, who had affectionately nicknamed her his “little Portuguese,” the sequence is a celebration of marriage, and of one of the most famous romances of the nineteenth century. Recognized for their Victorian tradition and discipline, these are some of the most passionate and memorable love poems in the English language. There are forty-four poems in the collection, including the very beautiful sonnet, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”

I first read this collection two years ago (review) when I was first making a serious foray into poetry. Revisiting it now after having read quite a range of poetry, I find her poetry evokes a lot more emotion out of me with the passion conveyed about her love for Robert Browning and how that love affects her. I suppose you could say I appreciated this collection a lot more than I did the first time around 😛

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Review: In Search of Duende

Posted 19 April, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

In Search of Duende
By: Federico Garcia Lorca
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase

The notion of “duende”—a demonic earth spirit embodying irrationality, earthiness, and a heightened awareness of death—became a cornerstone of Lorca’s poetics. In Search of Duende gathers Lorca’s writings about the duende and three art forms susceptible to it: dance, music, and the bullfight. A bilingual sampling of Lorca’s poetry is also included, making this an excellent introduction to Lorca’s poetry and prose for American readers.

I had no idea this book existed until I was wandering around the poetry aisles the last time I was at the bookstore. I love the cover of the book too; the minimalist look is absolutely soothing and eye-catching *hearts and stars* Anyway, I had no idea Lorca had delivered a few lectures when he was in New York–which makes total sense, of course–so I thought it was cool that a publishing company had compiled them along with some of his poems.

Are you surprised at all that I really liked this book? It was a fascinating collection of lectures he had delivered accompanied by some of his poems that reinforce some of the points he makes about the Spanish culture around duende and the artistic/cultural scene. Having read all of the his poems, his lectures on duende were quite illuminating, not only about Spanish culture and, to a lesser extent, Spanish and Andalusian identity, but also to his own poetry and why he wrote the way he did, and the steeped history that he worked from and inherited from previous artists and singers and poets. Duende is such a mysterious concept, and yet it’s something so deep and inherent in human experience that it came only be expressed in poetry (which then leads to the next question as to whether contemporary Spanish poets or poets hailing from Andalusia still write with duende infused somewhere in their work). The supplementary poetry nicely reflects the themes and points that Lorca makes in his essays and of course like his poetry, his lectures are quite beautifully written.

Would I recommend In Search of Duende to first-time Lorca readers? Likely not, if only I think you need to be a bit familiar with his poetry to appreciate where he’s coming from in explaining duende and why it’s so important. But this book is an excellent companion piece to his poetry and I highly recommend checking it out if you have read his works before.

Rating: ★★★★★

Learn more about the author on Wikipedia || Order this book from the Book Depository

Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 18 April, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Another day, another mini-batch of book reviews featuring more poetry 😀

La Douleur Exquise
By: J.R. Rogue
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

What happens when you meet
your soul mate at the wrong time?
What happens when you meet
your soul mate but you aren’t theirs?

I picked up this book after seeing it listed as a nominee in the GoodReads Choice Awards in 2016. The book cover was lovely and the term “la douleur exquise” is lovely (see meaning). Plus, I was trying to read more contemporary and self-published poetry after reading a string of classic and translated poetry. The collection was good, can’t say I was blown away from start to finish but there were a few poems that did stand out, namely the early part of the book. Maybe my expectations were a little high picking up this book and being swayed solely by the cover and title, but I’m not saying it was a bad collection; it just didn’t connect with me as much as I thought it would.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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