FOR THE THEN LOVE OF MY LIFE…FOR ME.

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“…whatever that emotion is when you know it’s all going downhill and you want to convince yourself you’d be fine if you hurtled after it because you want so bad not to lose it and there’s nothing you can do to stop it and you’re driven to sadness while bracing for the inevitable even though you know no loneliness hurts as bad as being miserable feels. Yeah. That one. My fonts of choice? Sarcasm, humour, resignation, grit, steel, some anger, a degree of longing, but mostly, care.”

 

I wasn’t sure how I was going to approach this. First, because this would be my first time reviewing an anthology of poems/poetry anthology [this is intentional], and secondly, because my first impression (yes, I judged by its cover) was eeeeeeeeeeh, this love thing reaaaaally is not my area of strength, can I even relate? I don’t like clichés, honestly. Ok, lemme do this anyway, I could just list all the reasons why I do not like this, in the review. Brace yourselves! I am not saying yet whether or not I had to eat all of my words/thoughts (perhaps you’ve already guessed) but yeah, I probably shouldn’t have jumped the gun.

 

As I mentioned earlier, this is a collection of poems, on “Love, Love-ish, and Hope”, as Claudia Williams puts it. This book was my first encounter with Claudia, and I must say, when I saw her quotes from Lewis and Maya Angelou, I suspected a conspiracy…I hadn’t even started and I was beginning to approve?? Lol!

 

The book is divided into three parts, and Claudia explains to us in her introduction, that the poems span from her early teen years, right up to the “Fortyish” years (three decades of her life captured in poems) and I’m going to touch on each part, each phase, each decade, and how she transitioned not just through Love, Love-ish, and Hope, but also through the ‘then Loves of her life’, and herself.

 

TOO GOOD

This first phase is the teen zone, “where child and adult meet”. Truth is, I started out by trying too hard to find some hidden pattern, some common veiled tone running through, but by the fourth or fifth poem, I stopped. There is no doubt that these were works that happened at scattered times, and on different waves, and emotions. The only thing that ran through them, to me, was honesty. The encounter of that first feel of being singled out and specially loved (For the Love of Me)

Of all the people in the world

Of all the girls in the world

Of all the dreams in the world

Look at me, being appreciated by you.

 to the too-much-to-make-me-doubt slippery grounds (Insecure),

You won’t leave me like that, will you?

Please don’t answer.

to the “did that even happen?” ( Have I?)

How can it be

I miss you so bad

The vacancy of you not being here

Though I have not met you yet

Or, have I?

 

I picked up on the honesty of her works right from the introduction, from which I quoted the excerpt I started this review with. I am quite keen on punctuation, and what I realized in that excerpt was that, right up to ‘feels’, there was no punctuation. I am fond of reading just as I see it, not pausing if there is no comma there to “instruct” me to, and it hit me!…she must have been writing on the wave of the emotion that part evoked! Go read it again. Isn’t that how it feels?? I forgave her for all the absent commas, really. I did. I was like, “I feel you, sister!”

Anyway, to the next phase!

 

LOVE’S ILLUSIONS

Now this is the part where I started to eat some of my words. I could actually relate to some of them. Remorse, is the first piece in this part, and although this piece most probably is talking about a lost love; a then past love of her life, I connected with it in a different way. I imagined this “you” referred to in there, as a child you didn’t keep, yet years down the lane, that part of you that had wanted to keep it, touches the other half of you, and now all of you wishes you had kept it. You admit…

I wanted to touch you

I wanted to hold you

I wanted to feel the warmth of

Your cheeks against mine.

And though there is no way you are going to be able to turn back the hands of time, you are remorseful, and you admit that too;

My heart aches in trying

To let you know I feel remorse.

Guilty of burning my bridges behind me.

If only I could reach for you now.

If only.

 

I didn’t like that the title was Remorse, and that the word remorse was used in the poem… “To let you know I feel remorse.” I would have loved to be shown how she felt, not told. Describe it, maybe a little? Anyway, “I feel remorse”…doesn’t get clearer than that.

The other part of this phase I could relate to was what I got from Break Free! (Parts one). When you’re tired of one vicious cycle, destructive routine, non-productive, non-progressive cycle that winds and winds, and you just want it to stop!

For every drop of tear that falls

An ounce of strength within you grows.

And you have been cryin’

For a long time.

In other words, you have strength enough to break free. You get to that point where you realize you need to fire yourself up…motivate yourself to move!

As Claudia moves past Thirty, we see the new battles she must fight, we see how time slowly creeps into her themes, she can’t seem to help it. The word “waiting”  crops up in a couple of the pieces, and then we see nostalgia, frustration, maturity, and yet still a level of childlike openness to love against the threat of heartbreak.

 

I DID NOT SEE THIS COMING

Time has passed, some things aren’t new anymore, or surprising anymore. “Sarcasm, humour, resignation, grit, steel, some anger, a degree of longing” have all become familiar, and you can feel them from miles off when they head your way. This phase reminds me of lines from a poem by Ama Ata Aidoo;

A young girl’s voice doesn’t break;

It gets firmer.

Past maturity is that firmness that comes with being wise, knowing what you want;

Time and company are fine

But, my love, I want you, too.

and knowing what you do not want;

For I realized

As the words fell

I was now free.

It was okay for me

To be. Just be.

yet still, you are  human enough to fall again sometimes;

You rain-fire kisses

Wash and renew me

Delight and destroy me

Thoroughly consume me.

You let love in and you inhale deep!

 

Clearly, there is an ellipsis at the end of it all. It hasn’t really ended. After all, it’s not really Forty…it’s Fortyish.

 

I do not think I had to eat all of my words, though. When a book excites me very much, trust me, I can hyperventilate because of it. This was a good book, you know, but I did not hyperventilate, lol. I would rate it a 3 out of 5. As I said, you can’t miss the honesty with which she writes, they are refreshingly confessional (I’m a sucker for confessionals too), and surprisingly, what stuck with me most was that said-on-a-single-breath line in the excerpt I quoted from the introduction, and not any of the poems. Do I dare suggest she considers creative non-fiction too?

Oh! And may I end with my favoritest line??

 

“…no loneliness hurts as bad as being miserable feels.”

 

 

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Cheers!

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