Sometimes all this grinning feels so strange, I just lie on the porch doing nothing energetic, just lolling on the sun-warmed wood, letting the dogs lick my face, while the din of loneliness fills other ears.
(“The Land of Happy,” from Joy Street, page 25)
Quick summary: Joy Street is a short collection of poems by Laura Foley that beautifully captures everyday moments, from missed moments to contribute to a conversation to romantic moments while shopping for groceries. These poems touch upon such things as death, sexuality, and illness, focusing on the small glimmers of happiness instead of depression and despair. The darkest poems focus on the narrator’s father’s experiences as a POW for the Japanese.
Why I wanted to read it: I always read at least one poetry book every year, and there was just something so beautiful and joyful in the cover image that I was intrigued.
What I liked: Short, narrative poems are my favorite, and Foley’s poems did not disappoint on that front. Foley manages to capture so much emotion and paint such vivid pictures in just a few short lines. I especially enjoyed how the poems focused on ordinary experiences, peppering them with humor, and how the love poems were passionate without being overly sentimental.
What I disliked: There was nothing to dislike, except maybe for the brevity of the collection.
Final thoughts: Joy Street is a feel-good collection of poems sure to speak to every reader in some way. These poems radiate honesty and gentleness, which I found both powerful and refreshing, and I liked them even more upon my second reading. I’ll end with some of my favorite lines, which had me nodding and smiling: “The poet rests a worn, compassionate hand on her youthful shoulder, letting her know she has all the time she needs to breathe. I await my turn, thinking I’d like to be like her. Not the famous part. The graceful part.” (from “Grace,” page 32)
Disclosure: I received Joy Street from the author for review.
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