2 out of 4 stars
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Sunbursts at Sunrise is a collection of sixty-seven poems by Sue Gold. I am unable to tell you if this is the author’s first published collection of poetry as there are no biographical notes in the PDF version that I reviewed. Nor was I able to uncover any information about the author or this book by way of a Google search. From her spelling and from the references to things like Shabbat meals and singing Birkat Hamazon, one can discern that the author is British with a Jewish background.
The author’s themes in this collection include family, friendship, faith, community, nature, and love. Through all of these, the topic of food looms large. In ‘Recipe for Success’, she tells us that cooking and baking make her happy. Her connection with food, however, goes beyond the level of a hobby. Food is an essential part of the community and friendships that she cherishes so much. Sharing food, being hospitable, is an essential part of her nature and background. Food, in the mind of the writer, is almost a metaphor for a safe, well-ordered world.
Love and faith are central pillars of her life. The love she feels for her husband or partner is what gives direction to her life. In ‘Nestled in a Cove’, she writes: ‘How much more purposeful this life can be, / When you love someone so dearly’. He is someone from a similar background to her own, as she tells us in ‘Coming Home’: ‘I could not predict that on that day I’d meet a special man, / Seldom do I find someone of the culture that I grew up with.’ She does not view their meeting as a happy accident. Love and faith are closely bound for this author, and she highlights what she believes to be the work of divine providence in their encounter: ‘The miracle of it all seems divine, / It could not be staged I could not ahead of time known.’
While I enjoyed the author’s exploration of these themes, I didn’t care so much for the technical shortcomings of the poems themselves. The writer places too much importance on making her poems rhyme. In many places, she twists and mangles all rhythm and sense just to squeeze in a rhyme or half-rhyme. Her poetry is full of couplets like this one from ‘An Ode to Friendship’: ‘I cherish the times we’ve had together, / Thank G-d for you no matter what the weather’. The author’s reluctance to spell out the word ‘God’ in that line is interesting but irrelevant to the point at hand, which is that the second line is dictated entirely by the writer’s desire to find a rhyme for ‘together’.
I am giving this collection two out of four stars. I am docking one star for the technical shortcomings of the poetry, and one for the few typographical and formatting mistakes scattered across its seventy-one pages. Readers who enjoy poetry that is light and accessible might find this volume to be of interest. Those who like their verse to follow more formal rules of stress and rhythm might find it less appealing. There are no issues at all with profanity or sex so this volume can be read by anyone regardless of age.
Sunbursts at Sunrise
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