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Book Reviews

SUMMER 2022 READS AND REVIEWS

Unfortunately, I had less time this summer to sit and lose myself in a really good book but I had to make a choice. The weather was unusually sultry and sunny for Newfoundland and just in case you’re unfamiliar with the hellish winter weather on this rock, let’s just say we islanders are very adept at squeezing every drop of joy from the warmer months.

But divine providence being what it is, I wasn’t bookless for long. All three dropped into my reading world at exactly the right time. Two found me on social media via twitter: When I Grow Up I Want To Be A Chair By Ryan Rae Harbuck and Reflections By Raven Kamali. The third caught my eye during an incidental trip to Chapters: Scarborough By Catherine Hernandez. The fourth is an old favourite from my personal bookshelf: The Indigo Bunting by Vincent Sheean. They are all completely different books, two memoirs, a volume of poetry and a work of literary fiction.

 

When I Grow Up I Want To Be A Chair.

By Ryan Rae Harbuck

Memoir

Old Goldie Press

287 Pages

 

 

 

Reflections: A Poetry Collection

By Raven Kamali

Poetry

Raven Kamali 2022

91 pages

 

This is a fully human volume of poetry interwoven with a passion for the spiritual life as a springboard to discover the origin and meaning of love. These poems are also a quest for knowledge of the intangible and yet, with words and the urging of the muse, this poet does the impossible. Raven Kamali grasps the invisible and elusive, holding it long enough for us to understand that love is both solid and lasting as well as mutable.

But make no mistake this poet doesn’t shy away from the controversial murky waters of current human communication. There is a fierce female wisdom throughout the text rooted in the poet’s discernment and personal experience of modern life. Her harsh and honest assessments of the state of human consciousness in this era of upheaval and change is direct and unapologetic:

Mass delusion and hallucination / Running wild in a world of confusion (Ignorance)

Concrete and steel / rise ever higher / An eyesore that refuses to retire / In a world that is getting dumber (Modernity)

Her fascination with the natural world is shared in the earthy rich language of wisdom and respect for the seasonal power of our planet. There is a message beneath the layers of articulated beauty in several of her poems, a recognition and acceptance of time, of endings and beginnings borne of our collective finite physical existence:

Each Sphere has a song to sing / A destiny that must be seen / A revolution to which / It must cling Before Death destroys its sheen (Cosmic Ark)

There is also a cold and conscious grappling with age and the inevitability of pain and cyclical change:

The long winter is here / The bird is full of fear / Will there be a tomorrow / Or a day without sorrow?

(The Dying Bird)

Ms. Kamali explores wonder and humility, an honest awe for the unknowable, unquenchable thirst for truth.  Some things can never be understood or their meaning revealed. This is the mystery of life and the paradox of the spiritual journey:

I am just a traveller / Passing through this world / Like a silent breeze / On a mid-summer night / Leaving nothing behind / But the slight hint of perfume / From the flowers / That grow in the garden / of a stranger / I never met (Just a Traveller)

Coupling and romantic love, both unrequited and fulfilled, birth and death, beginnings and endings are themes fully realized in ‘Reflections’. This is the deep dive of self discovery, a life lived with an open heart and refined thought life.  The poet gives great consideration to the possibility of perfection through human failing and this more than anything else in the text of this collection connected to me personally. Raw examination of human nature without cynicism is a challenge for most poets but Ms. Kamali is unaffected by negative narrowness and embraces the paradox as part of what and who we all are as flawed spiritual beings.

Reflections is a magical collection of poems. It’s an elemental journey from the earthy desires of the human heart with flesh and bone clarity to our ultimate destiny of the transcendent brilliance of the stars.