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Even the Smallest Bird Casts a Shadow: Poems Paperback – July 17, 2015
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
What’s being said about Valerie Marie Leslie’s
Even the Smallest Bird Casts a Shadow
– Poems –
“While plainly written for privacy and self-revelation, Leslie’s poems in nearly every form capture experience that might be known to any reader— there is a progression through the chapters that resembles the evolution of the narrative persona of Leslie.”
~ Kathryn (Kiffer) Brown, Chanticleer Book Reviews
“Heartbreak, loss, jealousy, empathy, and finding a purpose. And of course there is the slow realization of rising above adversity.”
~ Mahlon Smoke, At The Inkwell
“I have been lucky enough to hear VML read, to hear the power and nimbleness of her words in her own voice. In this collection, she offers us a series of journeys beginning with her earliest poems to those written in her mid thirties.
“She allows us to witness the evolution of her world view from her early teens to the one she now inhabits. This means some of her poems have the blemish of youth, while others are clear gems that sing from the first line to the last.
“Take the journey, discover who VML was, and who she has become.”
- Duane Kirby Jensen, fellow poet
About the Author
Born in the San Fernando Valley, Valerie Marie Leslie grew up on the stage and somewhat in front of the camera: singing, dancing and acting like most residing in Southern California. In the interim of rationed alone-time as a kid, she discovered her passion and inclination for song writing, then poetry. Little did she realize the perpetuity of this practice. She was transplanted to Washington State at age 17, where she completed school with a Bachelor's degree of Music in Theory/Composition. Post-college, she unconsciously labored at convenient but disaffiliated jobs while venturing to satisfy her composing appetency, achieving very humble credits to her name. As for the poetry, she kept it confined to the darkness of her nightstand… until now. She works a full-time job with a short commute from her home in Bellingham, WA, where she shares a house with her husband and two cats.
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While plainly written for privacy and self-revelation, Leslie’s poems in nearly every form capture experience that might be known to any reader. Although each chapter covers roughly the decade and a half, there is a progression through the chapters that resembles the evolution of the narrative persona of Leslie. Back-to-school senses are evoked in the ramble of “During Science,” and there’s an affection to the poem “Hey Teacher,” which surely every high school writer has rendered some way. Heartbreak and romantic hope extend cover to cover but the early poems preserve the innocence of first attempts, culminating in the proud assurance of “The Ave Maria.”
As the collection advances, the re-occurrence of life’s distresses, financial struggles, social pressures, miscommunication, failed expectations, and romantic disappointments, couple with resilience, ambition, and determination to reveal turmoil that’s as close as scented memory. The fallibility of human intention is confronted in Leslie’s poems at the same time as the loss of certainty in what she, we, seek from a life of surviving.
The final chapters of supposedly reached adulthood still question the definition of that idea, and are laced with the aspirations and confusion of high school and college. The bitterness appears with simple sharp lines, “I didn’t get my degree for nothing,” and a young adult struggling to settle their purpose in life can find their frustration spoken from beginning to end in Leslie’s collection.
Many of Leslie’s poems are untitled, and several throughout question, explore, or verify a sense of spirituality, connection, and security in God. These chapters plunge into the despair of doubt, guilt, and depression. In a life seeking love, Leslie expresses from an emotional pain felt in ages beyond the experience of her poems.
Reading Leslie’s collection invited me to look back at memories and experiences of exactly the same time frame depicted, to question how I would define what I witnessed and learned then. The purpose of "Even the Smallest Bird Casts a Shadow" is to end a silence of self-doubt and shame, but it may easily motivate readers to delve into their past and youth for strength and inspiration.