Poetry Books with a Difference

I would like to share these poetry books with you, which touched me deeply:

41NExciOU6L._SR126,200_Stranger Paths: The Magic in the Madness Poetry Collection by R.J. Zarkani speaks eloquently about war-torn Iraq and the eternal emotional bruises that a little girl carried within her, wondering why her father told her to get inside when she wanted to see the “fireworks making a day out of night,” – a child’s perspective about war.

All the pearls in this book belong to the same string that broke and scattered. Zarkani’s yearning to meet the child who “swallowed the smoke” and got lost in the explosions didn’t wane years after she migrated to an alien land, in search of peace and freedom. Roots pull her; stars and the clouds appear familiar but there is a strange disconnect that seems inexplicable, as she was told “you don’t look like a terrorist!”

Superb imagery that R.J. uses blends in her reflections about “creatures crawled out of her book,” a book that calls her, visions that haunt her, images of the past linger, fairies that lived on her kitchen sink still sing; memories stand before her, trying to sweep her away into the world she still loves… ‘shoes filled with mud’ seem dearer… ‘rain in the desert’ – a childhood memory returns as Raghad writes the poignant story of the moments she treasures.

41TYVhHDryL._SR133,200_Journey to the Rainbow’s End: A Drag Queen’s Odyssey by Forrest Stepnowski is a brilliant anthology of blank verse and a short story that dwells on the hope of being accepted the way one is… “To be my own star.” It gives voice to all those persons of LGBTQ community, who slip into the abyss of self-loathing because of orthodox, judgmental society that spews hatred against them, declaring them “gay,” “immoral” and “abnormal.”

Each poem in this collection makes a poignant appeal to the society to understand the pain and ridicule that they have to undergo because of the apathetic attitude of the people around them, who push them into the closet, compelling them to face “The silent horror of being” and are forced to snub “the darkest secrets” but who crave for love to lead a normal life.

This is a distressing journey of emotional upheavals, a clarion call to find their own voice and light by breaking free from the shackles that threaten to suffocate them, by accepting that strength lies within. This book must be read by everybody as it contains profound words for those who look down upon other human beings.

51h1UkHNvmL._SR125,200_‘Open a New Door’ by Kim Blades and Robbie Cheadle is a collection of poems, inspired from life in Africa and people who make it good, bad or ugly. All aspects are portrayed in a plausible manner.

Both Kim and Robbie have a similar style of writing blank verse, some of the themes too are identical. Realism is the hallmark of their poetry, as they talk about life and people in clear words; imagination takes a back seat. Deeply moved by poverty around her, Robbie has highlighted it in many poems. If ‘The Boys under the Bridge’ brings out the plight of the homeless youth, The Silver Lining underlines the uplifting spirits of a youngster carrying a load of recyclables with abandon, The Beggar’s Child mocks at the apathy of the passers-by but ‘The Golden Light’ focuses on helping the underprivileged children of a school in a squatter camp with books – a wonder gift for them.

Kim seems to be an ardent animal lover because many of her poems celebrate wild life and give a vivid description of how a cheetah hunts its prey, how mother cheetah nurtures her cubs, how a lion lies on golden grass, even her Utopia mentions “stamping buffalo.” Iconic South African birds too catch her attention to inspire a poem. The opening lines of ‘Lessons Learned in a rural village’ seem to be inspired from William Blake’s poem ‘The Little Black Boy.’

Some of the poems are too personal and comment on how life unfolds, offering unforgettable memories, moments of exhilaration and dismay, travails of a working mother and insecurities of an empty nest but they all make life worth living. Heaviness of this book would linger around you even when you finish and put it away.

Thank you for reading this post. Do you have a book in mind that has touched you deeply? Please share your reflections.

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– Balroop Singh



50 thoughts on “Poetry Books with a Difference

  1. “Journey to a Rainbow’s End” is next on my list to read. The other two sound like moving reads. Thanks for sharing, Balroop.

  2. I wouldn’t have known about these books if not for you, Balroop. Thank you for the reviews. May we each be our own star.
    It seems that every book I read these days touches me deeply. The last one I is Where the Crawdad Sings. Beautifully rendered – I recommend it. xo

  3. Thanks for sharing these books, Balroop. I’m familiar with Kim and Robbie’s book, but not the others. They all sound moving and yet different from each other. Have a wonderful weekend, my friend.

    1. The first two books captured my heart, as they follow one theme and the words seem to flow right from the hearts of the poets. Robbie and Kim’s book too touches some rare topics. Thanks for your visit Diana. Hope you are relaxing after a hectic month. 😊

  4. All three of these sound fascinating, Balroop. Thank you for sharing these titles and synopsis. All three capture my interest. I recently purchased a poetry book by Mary Oliver called Twelve Moons. I haven’t started it yet but look forward to it. I don’t possess many poetry books. I have yours on my Kindle, so lovely. It’s nice to refer back to your poems for emotional support.

    1. I had no idea what they contained, as I avoid the reviews before reading a book and I was pleasantly surprised by the way they captured my attention.
      Aww… so sweet of you to say that you refer to my poems for emotional support. You made my day Lisa. Many thanks for saying so.

  5. Thanks for highlighting these poets Balroop. Stranger Path sounds interesting and I’m looking forward to reading about her journey.

    1. The short poems in this book paint a grim picture and they would touch any sensitive person. Thanks for popping in Vishnu, much appreciated.

    1. My reviews are as honest as your poetry, which is emotional and bold. I am glad you have given vent to your emotions and possess the potential to do so.
      Thank you Forrest, for coming over to Emotional Shadows to share your thoughts, much appreciated.

  6. Your first recommendation appealed to me enough to order it immediately. Such emotional turmoil caused immigrant children from war-torn Iraq overwhelms. Thank you for the reviews.

    1. I stumbled across this book at twitter and was pleasantly surprised by its beauty. Wishing you happy writing Raghad. Just visited your blog and found more poems, delighted to connect with you.

  7. What a great recommendation, Balroop! Each seems powerful and moving in its own way. I look forward to reading them. Great review of each. 🙂

    1. Thanks for your kind words and welcome to Emotional Shadows. I am glad to connect with you Maia. I post my reviews at a separate page but the first two books are really different, as they take up sensitive themes. 🙂

  8. Thank you for sharing this honest, comprehensive review. Makes choosing a book so much easier. All the books mentioned sound unique in their own ways.

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