The French philosopher, Voltaire, noted that “Poetry is the music of the soul, and above all, of great and feeling souls.”
Some people might argue that a poet has the responsibility of stirring emotions within the reader . However, I believe that poet’s first obligation is to him or herself. Introspection is often painful. Fear forces us to keep our feelings guarded. We may not even want to acknowledge our own fears, doubts and mistakes. To listen to what we are feeling becomes a faint echo. To bravely offer a poetic tribute to emotions that is pure and unspoiled is a gift to the author and the reader.
Voltaire was right: “Poetry is the music…of great and feeling souls.”
The Evolution of a Poet by Jennifer Stewart is a beautifully poignant, delightfully lyrical exploration into one woman’s often painful journey through life. Stewart’s poetic genius is rooted in her ability to allow her words to guide us through her journey. She courageously lets us prowl around her brain and gaze into her heart. The end result is our appreciation for a collection of verse that is quiet and reflective, sometimes dark yet willing to embrace light.
Stewart arranges her thoughts under headings that chart her evolution as a poet: A Searching Teen, Becoming Aware, Love, Light and Understanding, The Darklings and Evolving. As the reader works through each heading and the poems contained within, there is a comfortable and natural progression. We witness growth and self discovery.
Repetition is an effective tool and in Silence is Golden, Stewart is perceptive in recognizing the gifts inherent in silence. When one wills oneself to truly listen with one’s heart, there are marvels to be uncovered.
Do You Think I’m Crazy is another gem. When Stewart writes, “my mind feels like a traffic jam with no way out for days,” you can feel her vulnerability. Similarly, Again also uses poetic repetition. This verse is stunning, so raw. As Stewart writes,
” My dreams are all shattered
Listening to your words
What does it matter?
You haven’t heard my cries
Each paragraph of this poem repeats the word Again. It’s eloquent and quite effective.
If Never, The Moonlight Whispers, In The Morning California are several other poems that use repetition to entice the reader in the message.
Take My Hand is an exquisitely rhythmic look at friendship burgeoning in the “land of make believe.” Dreams and love flourish in the land of make believe, at least through Stewart’s delightfully hopeful words.
A Dreamer’s Dream appears to harken to that notion of, as Stewart conveys, “sincere love leading to happiness and contentment.” But the human spirit, I suspect is restless. Since impatience may lead to an illusion of love, this poem offers a cautionary tale.
The Stage is Bare is one of my favorites in this collection. Here we see the poet wanting to fill the hearts of her audience with the food of her words. This poem is brilliantly layered and full of emotional depth. By its nature, poetry is raw and unfettered. The words pouring from the poet’s heart speak to her emotion. I would argue that the only character in a poem is the poet herself who weaves her narrative around the elements of life.
Lost and The Sidelines allow the reader to feel the pain of the author who is “dazed, confused, lost again.”
Pretense is another favorite of mine. Self discovery is a prevailing theme: Having the courage to be who we really are, where we embrace our authentic self rather than a societal convention. Yet, to live without pretense is a sought after goal. With a hint of melancholy, Stewart notes,
“As dreams of lies told, pull and tear at us,
Not wanting us to be
Who we truly are.”
Pondering the Soul speaks to an intense longing to frighten the confusion of one’s existence.
Forever and Always reminds us that despite the darkness, love is that promise that renews, or as Stewart writes, “ours are the hearts painted by love freely given.”
The evolution of a poet becomes a fulfilling journey in Daisies and Thistle, a rich and colourful exploration of oneself. Nature is the inviting images portrayed as the author determines that she “will wait there patiently in until my own wings grow.”
The Doorway speaks of hope, trust and faith against the backdrop of doubt and betrayal. There is poignancy in the words where that journey through life becomes an examination, a tally if you will, of people who have let you down. But what blame does one hold when trust is violated. There is a note of optimism, though. Life, with its hurts and disappointments, enables light to shine through an opened door. Sadly, though, sometimes “faith and trust is also swept out the door.”
This book review provides a small sampling of Stewart’s impressive poetry collection. I applaud her courage in inviting readers into her soul and highly recommend this work.