4 out of 4 stars
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There are times when poetry can be overly nebulous, burdened with metaphor and difficult to internalize. Tributaries: A Book of Poetry by Pamala Ballingham successfully avoids these problems, and instead delivers a collection of clear and penetrating poems, written in a beautiful, simple, and approachable style.
The poems are of mixed lengths and formats, mostly without rhyme, and include several short passages of prose. They are laden with vivid imagery and emotion, drawing much of their inspiration from nature. Rich with powerful and poignant metaphor, their topics include geographical features, oceans, forests, gardens, the changing seasons, mortality, aging, death, as well as birth, life, and love. Many of the poems include small and subtle inlaid artwork, which is generally abstract yet always in tune with the theme of the poem.
This was perhaps one of the best collections of poems I have ever read. It was pristinely edited – no errors came to my attention through the entirety of the work. The author experiments with a variety of styles and formats, yet each poem retains her minimalistic and serene voice. Many of the poems bloom open like flowers, revealing deeper meanings as the reader works his or her way down the page, and invoking feelings of peace, acceptance, and gentle wisdom.
Many of the poems also reference traditional native ceremonies and practices, which the author explains hold a special interest for her, and as such, this collection may appeal to readers who also take an interest in these cultural experiences. Since many of the poems are fairly short, and all are written in straightforward (though often, still incredibly moving) language, this would be a good book for someone who is just starting to explore the world of poetry. The collection is uplifting in a gentle and contemplative way, and leaves the reader refreshed, as if having just emerged from a meditation.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. Despite being rather nitpicky with poetry, I found nothing negative to say about this book. Many of the poems gave me pause, as I admired the author’s ability to succinctly, yet so accurately, capture a particular experience or emotion. Several times, I reread certain portions of the poems, simply because I enjoyed the combination of words that was chosen, or because I had been unexpectedly moved by a description of something that had previously seemed mundane. I would not hesitate to recommend this work to long-time readers of poetry, nor to beginners, and I feel personally enriched by the experience of having read it myself.
Tributaries: A Book of Poetry
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