Posts Tagged ‘laurie soriano’

Every April, I look forward to the National Poetry Month blog tour hosted by Serena at Savvy Verse & Wit. Serena is always challenging me to read more poetry and encourages everyone to just give it a try. If there is one thing I’ve learned about poetry over the years, it is that there really is something for everyone in the genre.

This year as I was contemplating my post, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit some of my favorite poetry collections. In no particular order, here are my top 5 favorite poetry collections:

From my review:

Dien Cai Dau, which means “crazy” in Vietnamese, is a collection of poems by Yusef Komunyakaa about his experiences as a soldier during the Vietnam War.  I first read this collection in a college English course on literature of the Vietnam War, and after re-reading it last week, I’ve concluded that it’s my favorite poetry book dealing with the war.  Komunyakaa is a master of words, describing his experiences and observations in a way that isn’t as gritty and raw as some other writings by Vietnam veterans but still shows the horrors of war and the struggle to survive.  He tells it like it is but does so with much emotion.

From my review:

Song of Napalm is divided into three sections, each of which deals with memories of his war experiences and indicate a progression toward dealing with the ghosts he carries with him and striking a balance between the need to remember and the need to return to the land of the living.  Weigl’s memories are so vivid and filled with emotion that they bring the war to life, and I could feel some of his pain.

From my review:

Delights & Shadows is a collection of quiet poems touching upon such themes as memory, aging, death, and nature. Kooser obviously spends a lot of time observing his surroundings, and many of his poems bring ordinary objects or simple moments to life. When Kooser looks at the world, he sees things that many of us would miss, and the descriptions of what he sees are fascinating.

From my review:

Catalina exemplifies everything I love in a poetry collection.  While I have no idea whether these poems are autobiographical, it certainly seems as though Soriano exposes her soul in these stanzas.  They affected me deeply with their heaviness and their beauty.

From my review:

Although there is diversity among the poetic styles and the poets’ experiences, each of the poems in The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry lead to the same conclusion:  that war is hell.  It makes me wonder how many of these poets were poets before, and how many used poetry as a way to deal with the loss, anger, and haunting memories tied to the war.  Some of the poems made me feel like I was staring into the poet’s soul.  I am in awe of men and women who can put such awful tragedies into words, and I believe that war poetry is among the most powerful and vivid, bringing to life the internal and external struggles in a way that non-fiction and prose cannot.

Have you read any of these collections? If so, I’d love to hear what you thought of them. If not, I hope you will consider giving one or all of them a try! Happy National Poetry Month!

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Laurie Soriano’s poetry collection, Catalina, published by Lummox Press, was the unanimous choice of the voting members as the winner of the 2011 Indie Lit Awards in the Poetry category.  Catalina exemplifies everything I love in a poetry collection.  While I have no idea whether these poems are autobiographical, it certainly seems as though Soriano exposes her soul in these stanzas.  They affected me deeply with their heaviness and their beauty.

The poems are broken up into four sections, with the first two seeming to focus mainly on childhood.  In “Parents,” she paints a portrait of a troubled marriage, alcoholism, and abuse.

Then there was the drinking,
the reason we got hit
before bedtime, the reason we lay alone
shivering in our beds at unreasonable hours
hearing them murder each other, over and over,
leaving puddles of failure and self-pity
all over the living room. (page 21)

There is a haunting quality to the poems in which the narrator remembers her childhood, but the last two sections of the book focus on a happier time, when she is married with children.  Yet, emphasizing how the past never leaves us and has made us who we are, the moments of joy and becoming one with nature are contrasted with darker poems dealing with death.  Catalina takes readers on a journey as Soriano flees her childhood in Connecticut and embarks on a new life in California, the poems progressing from a painful time to one in which she has come to terms with things.

I think I loved Catalina so much because the poems spoke to me, and I could understand where she was coming from as she described a troubled childhood, falling in love, becoming a mother, and watching her children grow.  “Sweet Bean” is beautiful in its imagery as she describes her daughter’s transition from girl to woman.

The peaceful nipples wake up and announce
pinkly the parade of hormones is here,
the breasts bloom into little pillows,
your belly flattens, the waist carves itself,
and suddenly you have a colt’s legs,
big feet, and a supple back that someone
ought to paint a picture of. (page 72)

My favorite poem in the collection is “Impatiens,” in which the narrator tells her lover that she has met someone else, the man who would become her husband and the father of her children, and she describes him as a flower.  The poem is beautiful in its intensity, perfectly describing the beginnings of true love though it is written after they have already been together for years.  When you finish this poem, you know in your bones that her leaving this other man was the right thing to do and that somehow he understood.

The man is simple like the earth, loamy, radiant
and when my eyes behold his face,
the confident smooth masculine skin gives way
to the flashes of color that no one deserves
that are his eyes, flashing that way
because of me. (page 68)

Catalina has become my favorite contemporary poetry collection because I could relate to the experiences Soriano describes in these poems.  Soriano’s blend of narration and poetic language are perfect.  The poems are subtle, yet at the same time they are intense, intimate, and sensual.  The themes of love and loss, pain and joy, birth and death are ones we can all relate to, and her images are vivid yet never too much.  From here on out, whenever someone tells me they don’t read poetry because they can’t understand it or it doesn’t speak to them, I will encourage them to read this collection.

**The Indie Lit Awards poetry board had the opportunity to interview Laurie Soriano.  I hope you’ll take the time to check it out!**

Winner of the 2011 Indie Lit Awards in Poetry

Hosted by Savvy Verse & Wit

Book 3 for the Fearless Poetry Exploration Challenge

Disclosure: I received a copy of Catalina from Lummox Press as part of the voting process for the Indie Lit Awards.  I am an IndieBound affiliate and an Amazon associate.

© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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