4 out of 4 stars
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A Loaf of Bread by Rana Bitar is a collection of heart-felt poetry. The author is from Syria, and she lived through a very turbulent time in the country’s history. Bitar experienced loss of many kinds and faced the unknown on a daily basis. The poetry in this collection focuses on the author’s home and the distress her people experienced during the country’s civil war. The collection consists of ten free-verse poems of varying lengths; some are only a few lines while others are approximately four pages.
The themes explored in this collection are deep and thought provoking. The author’s handling of death, destruction, sorrow and loss is profound and moving. It is clear from the beginning that the author was deeply impacted by the events she describes in this collection. While some themes at first appear obvious, like in “Beheading” where the content is self-explanatory, the poems also contain deeper meaning. Helped along by metaphor, reoccurring motifs and innuendo, each poem in Bitar’s collection is engaging, and it will take one some time to mull over the words and find the less-obvious interpretation. I loved the complexity of Bitar’s poems.
Fans of poetry will relish the feeling-imbued words of this collection. From the first lines of “Where I am From,” the introductory poem of the collection, one can effortlessly see and, more importantly, feel the author’s homeland. Bitar shows us the setting using prose to fill the reader’s head with rich images of her culture and day-to-day life. For example, two lines that immediately caught my attention: “I am from the secret service boots.” and “I am from the hushed steps to school.” As the poems continue, the significant consideration that went into the selection and placement of each word becomes obvious.
In addition to the thoughtful word choice, each poem has a purposeful tempo, and the prose is supported by a clear pattern. It was refreshing to see the author achieve this flow without the use of rhyme. When read aloud, much of Bitar’s poetry reads like a somber ode, or, in some instances, like a lullaby, while others flow along like a mournful song. The versatility of the author’s meter really astounded me and only added to my conclusion that every word and every punctuation mark was thoughtfully and purposefully placed.
One mark of a good poet is the ability to convey events with emotions attached; Bitar far exceeds this mark in each and every poem. Although ten poems doesn’t sound like a lot for a poetry collection, this number works in the author’s favor. Each of the ten poems is memorable, meaningful and enigmatic. Further, the collection is perfectly edited, and just like with her words, the author thoughtfully uses punctuation to amplify her statements. Since I found myself reading these poems over and over again and felt such a connection to the author, I rate A Loaf of Bread 4 out of 4 stars. Readers who enjoy poetry that makes you think, empathize and feel will love this collection. Further, readers who enjoy expanding their horizons will gain a new cultural perspective from this author’s words.
A Loaf Of Bread
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