4 out of 4 stars
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You will not find the word opaciphobia in the dictionary or in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This is a term Dr. Paul Giangrasso coined to describe a burdensome fear that has been a part of his life since childhood. In his own words, it is “the fear of an unclear identity. On top of the fear of not only being unclear but the fear of being obscure and insignificant.” He first recognized this feeling when he looked out his grandparents’ semi-opaque window. He could not see clearly what was outside the window, nor could he be seen clearly by those on the outside looking in. His book, Opaciphobia and Other Inner Reflections, is a compilation of poetry, prose, and canvas paintings that describe living with this fear.
This 177-page book comprises three sections. Each section begins with a display of Dr. Giangrasso’s canvas artwork, followed by twenty-seven poems and their accompanying reflections. In the first section, the author reflects on his biggest fears, annoyances, and issues. The second section goes deeper into his struggles in the past, while the last section shares the author’s approach for the future.
Except for an occasional question mark, the poetry contains no punctuation. The title of each poem is its sequential number in the book, written in all caps. This interesting naming convention allows the reader to experience each poem without the preconceived expectations a title might elicit. Initially, I was afraid I would be overwhelmed tracking my progress with each passing poem, drowning somewhere around “SIXTY-FIVE.” Thankfully, after the first few pages, I settled into the format.
Dr. Giangrasso’s poems flow effortlessly. He not only transfers the meaning but also the emotion of his experiences. This was the aspect of the book I enjoyed most. Perhaps the author’s chronic diplopia and bipolar disorder caused him to experience his fears more intensely, but it was his skillful writing that allowed him to share his feelings so well.
Several poems convey the author’s frustration of feeling lectured to instead of being a valued participant in conversations. While reading this book, I felt as if we had many meaningful conversations. I would reflect on each poem before moving on to its commentary. Even if we did not share the same experience, I could relate to the underlying emotion.
An example was when I read “SEVEN.”
“I am someone’s son
Please don’t kill me
My son needs his father
My daughter needs me as well”
These words resonated with me. I thought about the growing number of innocent men in the United States—walking, jogging, or eating ice cream in their living room—unexpectedly killed because of someone’s reaction to the color of their skin. “SEVEN” was the first of three poems dealing with the author’s fear of terrorists. Although experiencing these words from distinct vantage points, the author and I met at the same place in the frailty of this plight.
Section three was my least favorite part of the book. In this forward-looking section, the author includes his spiritual approach for healing and growth. He intentionally keeps this section generic to reach a wide audience. For example, he uses the term “the source” instead of “God” because he acknowledges one person’s God may not be the same as another’s. As a Christian, I did not expect or need to agree with his spiritual approach, but I didn’t connect with a few reflections in this section because they were too generic. I couldn’t understand enough of his position to agree or disagree with his reasoning. These few instances did not diminish my enjoyment of this book.
I rate Opaciphobia and Other Inner Reflections 4 out of 4 stars. Dr. Giangrasso effectively communicates the rawness of his emotions without overwhelming his audience. He is always conscious of his interaction with the reader and includes a thoughtful surprise in “SEVENTY-EIGHT.” This book does not contain erotic content or profanity, and it has been edited well. There were only a few very minor errors. I recommend this beautifully constructed collection to anyone who appreciates the need to address healing from hurts and fears. It is best suited for young adults and adults because they could relate to the life experiences covered best.
Opaciphobia and Other Inner Reflections
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