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How to Love the Empty Air Paperback – March 20, 2018
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"Aptowicz is something of a legend in NYC's slam poetry scene. She is lively thoughtful, and approachable, looking to engage the audience with her work and deeply committed to the community that art and slam poetry can create." -- Jo Reed, NEA
About the Author
Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is the author of seven books of poetry, including The Year of No Mistakes, crowned the Book of the Year for Poetry by the Writers' League of Texas. She is also the author of two books of nonfiction, most recently Dr Mütter's Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation at the Dawn of Modern Medicine, which spent three months on the New York Times Best Seller. Recent awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the ArtsEDGE write-in-residency at the University of Pennsylvania and the Amy Clampitt Residency. When not on the road, she lives in Austin.
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How to Love the Empty Air by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is a collection of poetry which primarily focuses on her relationship with her mother (also a writer) and the grief she experienced after her death. Please don't think it's all doom and gloom and buckets of tears (although there is that too) because she also delves into the pockets of happiness that can be found amidst the overwhelming sadness of losing someone so dear. Cristin speaks to that part of the heart that is attuned to the people in our lives who get us so completely that even the idea that they might not be there pulls the air from one's lungs. From her poem "O Laughter" comes this gem: Sometimes the pain bursts out of me like a flock of starlings. Perfection! If I had to express this book in graph form it would be a steep incline immediately followed by a steep decline and finished off with a steady incline that disappears off the side of the page. Simply put, this is an absolutely lovely little book with beautiful prose and if it doesn't stir your heart I wonder if you even have one. 10/10
PS I'd also like to note that 1. I loved the finish on this book. It's like that velvety feeling that some books have and it was an absolute treat to hold it. 2. I enjoyed Cristin's book so much that I'm actively looking to read her other works (including a nonfiction book).
Having lost my mother when I was just a teenager, I was drawn to How to Love the Empty Air. While grief is a very personal thing, there is comfort in the understanding of someone else who has experienced the same tragedy. Apotowicz holds nothing back in this collection. She shares her joys, her sorrows, and her pain in all its rawness. You laugh. You cry. You want to hug her because she feels so close as she stumbles around searching for that new normal that may never feel normal at all. Then she reaches that major milestone--one year after the death of her mother. Not enough time has passed to eliminate the heaviness of the loss, but by the end we can see some joy, a glimmer of happiness and new beginnings.
This is definitely one of my favorite collections. It is the seventh by Aptowicz. I'll be searching out more. How to Love the Empty Air by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz is a powerful and touching look into grief.
Besides just being sad - this is real. Cristin gets a little snarky at times, and I love that. I love that she could mix a little humor with this heaviness that was on her heart. I am glad that she could share this with her readers. I am glad that I was allowed into her life for a bit. Thank you Cristin for letting me into your life through your poetry! I do hope I get to read more from you!
I voluntarily posted this review after receiving a copy of this book from Poetic Book Tours - Thank You!!