My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Anthologies of poems need introductions where simple volumes of a poet's work generally do not. I tend to roll my eyes and sigh in pain when a poet in particular feels the need to spend more than a couple of sentences explaining and/or defending her/his work. However, anthologies need a few words. This is even more true it seems when the collection is based as much on philosophy as form, as in the case of A Blackbird Sings. On the other hand, I wonder how much is too much. Compared to how much actual poetry is in this book, I am tempted to say the editors might have given us more than necessary. At the same time, I am hard pressed to decide what needs cutting.
As for the poems, most are quite a delight to read. Much of the aforementioned philosophy is about the poet taking a single still moment to write about, much like the ancient haiku, but with more vivid imagery and less reliance on rigid season words. Though a handful of pieces were a bit too cliched or wordy for my tastes, most leap off the page as if to prove the still life is the only real life.
The closing part of the book is a short instructional exercise in writing small stones, the type of short poems in the collection. This is not only for poets themselves, for any who recognize the need to slow down and observe the wonder of the world, if only a few moments of the day. I really don't think this is necessary for the book, yet I suspect some readers will be grateful for the information.
Overall, A Blackbird Sings is a reminder that poetry is alive and can transform the open heart.
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