3 out of 4 stars
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Creative expression can help people process challenging life experiences. Poet Sandra Leon-Gonzalez discovered this through her collection of poetry and visual art, Life Through Poetry and Art Revisited. The work describes her emergence from a deeply painful time of loss.
Not long before Hurricane Sandy forced her family to flee their home, Leon-Gonzalez suddenly lost her longtime husband to an aneurysm. Their flooded home was then burglarized and many prized possessions were taken. Any one of the three tragedies is devastating for most people.
The author heeded the advice of a new friend, who encouraged her to work through her pain by writing. Her poems traverse numerous themes, from darker portraits of betrayal and pain to inspirational themes, such as gratitude, transformation, faith and surrender. Leon-Gonzalez also explores some social content, such as skin color and offers tribute poems to her mother and grandmother.
The author combines rhyming verse with varying poetic meter patterns. This poem, called “Darkness Revealed,” successfully employs iambic trimeter. A pattern of one unstressed then one stressed syllable is arranged in groupings of three feet, or segments, per line.
“My eyes were closed and covered.
Your form I could not see.
But now the veil is lifted.
Your deception now clear to me.”
A series of photographs and art, all credited to her late husband are displayed throughout the book. Expressive, colorful paintings intermix with line drawings, still lifes and caricatures. While many of the pieces are powerful, they differ in style, genre, and media. I struggle to understand how most of the art relates to the poetry. One style would have served the work's continuity better.
The poetry is infused with emotion and imagery that reflect the depth of the subject matter. The reader can sense the gravity of what Leon-Gonzalez endured and the strength of spirit that brought her through it.
Poets enjoy free rein with punctuation, so I don’t identify punctuation errors in poetry. That said, this author misuses and overuses commas frequently. She unnecessarily uses commas at the end of lines where the line break is a sufficient pause.
The poems are presented in alphabetical order, by title, which doesn’t serve the continuity of the work. The themes are peppered throughout, but the reader may not easily identify them because of the bouncing around.
I offer Life Through Poetry and Art Revisited 3 out of 4 stars. The author heartfully portrays her courageous path through a dark time. Her metered poetry succeeds in many cases, excepting the pieces that suffer from too much mixing of meters and rhyming patterns. Through facing her pain and grief, she learned to focus on the positive aspects of her life and is now happily married to the man who encouraged her to write. I think adults who enjoy poetry and stories of transcendence will enjoy this book.
Life Through Poetry and Art Revisited
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