Official Review: Beyond The Thorned Holly by Gregory Cenac

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bookowlie
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Official Review: Beyond The Thorned Holly by Gregory Cenac

Post by bookowlie » 15 Nov 2017, 20:52

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Beyond The Thorned Holly" by Gregory Cenac.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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Beyond the Thorned Holly by Gregory Cenac is an eclectic collection of poems about observations and reminiscences of people and places that touched the author in some way. Written over the past five years, it contains a mix of topics sure to please a wide range of tastes. The book also includes a fable about a bear and a few short essays.

Written in free verse, the poems have an easy, rhythmic style. I found the writing to be sophisticated yet very accessible. The word choices are spot on and give the book that undefinable, special spark. At its best, poetry should convey emotions, clear imagery, or a mix of both. The author has managed to present these elements well. Taken as a whole, the poems form a scrapbook of moments - watching his grandparents dancing, looking out onto the Kansas prairie while the flight crew readies for takeoff, etc.

The author has a real talent for capturing the heart of something, even if the picture is not always rosy. There is an underlying theme of Southern racism in some of the poems, but it is viewed through the lens of the author’s personal observations about members of his family and others. The characters are realistically written and their prejudiced attitudes are revealed to the reader in subtle ways.

It’s hard to pick a favorite in this diverse collection, but there are some standouts. In the very relatable “The Paseo,” the author reminisces about sights he has seen in different places, but is glad to be back in his beloved Missouri. The emotions leap off the page and the imagery is so clear that I felt like I was transported to each place he described. “Elation” conveys that happy feeling you get on a balmy day in late winter, with the daffodils and crocuses peeking through the ground. In “The Narcissist,” I loved the simple yet effective refrain, “Did I mention that I am tall and that I have blue eyes,” as the man can’t understand why his wife left him.

While I loved most of the poems, there were a few where I missed the point. I felt there was some inside meaning that was personal to the author, but that the reader wasn’t let in on. These pieces were well written, but it was if I had been given a glimpse of someone’s diary where I didn’t fully understand the context.

I give this book the highest rating, 4 out of 4 stars. It is a unique and thought-provoking collection, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys poems with perceptive observations and beautiful imagery.

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Beyond The Thorned Holly
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Post by gali » 16 Nov 2017, 10:53

I don't read poetry, but it does sound like a unique collection of poems. It is great that the author has managed to convey his emotions so well. Not my cup of tea, but I am glad you enjoyed the book. Thank you for the great review!
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." (Mortimer J. Adler)

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Post by bookowlie » 16 Nov 2017, 11:43

Thanks Gali! I really enjoyed this book. There is a nice blend of topics and the author has a wonderful way with words.
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Post by kandscreeley » 16 Nov 2017, 11:43

Poetry is sometimes hard to rate. There is sometimes that special spark as you say that just isn't there. It's hard to define. Glad this collection was good.
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Post by bookowlie » 16 Nov 2017, 11:52

Kandscreeley, I agree poetry is hard to review, especially if the poetry is about the author's innermost feelings or about topics that are very meaningful.
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Post by MsTri » 16 Nov 2017, 15:30

More often than not, I enjoy poetry, so I may try this one out. You didn't elaborate on the bear fable or essays, though; how were THOSE for you?

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Post by bookowlie » 16 Nov 2017, 21:30

MsTri, I didn't discuss the fable or essays because they were very short and I didn't want to give too much away. :) One essay is a reminiscence of a musician who had played at the nursing home where the author's mother worked years earlier. The bear fable was about a bear who crashed through the door of a family's living room and what the family does after that. I can't say the fable was one of my favorite parts of the book - basically well written, but not my cup of tea.
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Post by Jennelle chune » 16 Nov 2017, 23:25

Wawww great book love it

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Post by CatInTheHat » 17 Nov 2017, 09:36

I especially enjoy it when poetry is related to an underlying issue in society. It sounds like this collection does that for the reader.
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Post by Mercy Bolo » 17 Nov 2017, 10:16

I love a good poem. This collection is definitely one to check out. With poetry, there is often a hidden meaning that can be difficult to crack.
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Post by bookowlie » 17 Nov 2017, 11:48

Thanks everyone for the feedback. There is a nice blend of topics in this collection - social issues, family, love, routine observations of nature, etc.
As you slide down the bannister of life, may the splinters never point in the wrong direction. - Irish blessing

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Post by JudyJo » 18 Nov 2017, 23:35

Personally, I enjoy eclectic writing. The kind that wanders down unusual paths and sparks the imagination! This sounds like one I'd like to read myself. Thanks!

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Post by kingslexasoh1000 » 19 Nov 2017, 17:29

This is a poem book.....maybe I might review it for sometime.

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Post by Mohamedlaswed » 20 Nov 2017, 13:57

I give this book highest ratting, four out four stars. It is a unique and thought-proviking collection, and I recommended it to anyone who enjoys poems with perspective observations and beautifully imagery

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Post by Mtsweni Nelsy » 21 Nov 2017, 07:29

Thanks for the review. Poems can be really interesting, especially when the poet gives the positive perception something to be rosy, even when it is not.

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