nameless, by Sana Mitchell

This is a copy of a review done on on this particular poetry book. Here goes:

complex and subtle, sometimes; a punch in the gut, other times. Strong writing.

five stars

Star counts are personal – mine reflect my tastes, background, and impression from the work. So as always, do not let my star count override your judgement of content. More on the stars, counting, and my rating challenges later. Let’s get to the good stuff: Mitchell’s work.

We find some sixty free verse poems. For an extended metaphor, turn to Vows: “if you were my bootstrap /i’d tie you once /and then twice, /cross you up /make a nice design.” The poem goes on from there, so no further spoiler here. For a strong piece of personal experience and insight, turn to A Road with No Name.

Again in Wasting of a Life we find this: “I will stop making holes in my heart /And you can hold your hand up /To stop the wasting of a life.” For a more complex love poem, turn to Wild Flowers.

For something on the edge of erotic turn to A New Art, which begins thus: “Fingers trace the edges of her smooth skin /above that fissure /where pleasures moan and rivers surge,….” This is personal experience writ large, and communicated to the reader.

For social commentary, turn to Seduction, which begins thus: “self-confession /is a woman /provocatively sitting alone /in a bar.” For an additional personal experience turn to There is Nothing Worse than Being in Exile, which includes this bit of description: “a newspaper sits on the table like stale crackers /moist from the humid air,…”

If you’re scrolling for the tiny carps, forget it. There may be a single typo. In short, nothing.

For a bit of a riddle, turn to He Walks Among Us. I guarantee you will not guess the contents of this fine poem from its title.

I must confess that I found the longer poems more cryptic, perhaps requiring more re-reading than my usual two passes. So my favourites are often shorter pieces, including the amazing piece, Spilling the Mocha, which includes this: “Love is /an old dog, /too loyal to leave /too tired to bark….” If you think that’s a spoiler in a short poem, you’re in for what I call a ‘gut-punch’ when Mitchell finishes you off with this experience.

Back to the star count. My personal guidelines, when doing an ‘official’ KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. In the very best works I generally find a handful of favourites (sic au Canada) that really stick in my mind. I’ve quoted some of those above from Mitchell’s offering. I think five stars is right on. Extremely recommended.

Kindle Book Review Team member.

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