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Nature's Gold Paperback – May 13, 2016
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First of all, she can see and point out to us the beauty of everyday experiences such as a sneaky nap, a craving for chocolate or tea, an enchanting smell of perfume, a tree climb for an apple, an abandoned sailing boat -- and above everything the whole Nature around us with its flowers, trees and animals, which we neglect and harm so often. Penny Luker realizes the artistic potential of small things we tend to overlook. She shares with us surprising stories and feelings these everyday things may evoke. Her poem “Potential” says it all, reminding us of many possibilities a blank piece of paper could become. In her case, it has become a beautiful poem many times.
The magical switch between dreams and reality is evident not only from Penny Luker’s poems about ordinary things, but also from her poems about complicated human relationships. Sometimes it is just subtle hint of daydream but at other times the switch between dreams and reality is the main theme.
For example “Things to do” is an account of an old lady who dreams about being young and doing things she cannot do anymore. “Dream” is a poem about missing the best friend and dealing with the loss by dreaming about him. Similarly “Forget-me-not”, “This is Not Good-bye” and “No Regrets” show the magic power of memory that allows us to enjoy the company of those we have lost. There are many poems about struggling relationships that can be preserved thanks to good memories. And even those relationships that fail keep those memories as something precious to dream about.
While people from some poems seem to be able to bear harsh reality of bad marriages thanks to their dreaming, harsh reality awakens others, e.g. a bride from “Reality Check”. Or a vain woman finally realizes her aging in “The Truth Glass.”
Yet still other narrators’ awareness of reality prevents them from rashly pursuing their dreams because they are responsible and considerate human beings: “Drawn” is a poem of resisting a temptation. “Against the Odds” is a poem of a “mama’s boy” who postponed his true dreams because he did not want to leave his mother alone. It has a happy ending, but this poem sent shivers down my spine for some reason. I have a son and the very thought that i could become an obstacle to his dreams without knowing it deeply disturbed me. This is a compliment to the poet, because it requires a lot of skill to disturb me with a peaceful poem.
The author is also a dreamer in being able to imagine to be someone else and to put her readers in someone else’s shoes. I highly appreciate her skill to draw me out of my own skin and show me how it feels to be an abused woman, a betrayed wife, or even a boy attached to his mother. Throughout the book, this poet assumes different roles, demonstrating her great empathy in the sense of imagining to be someone else. But in “Childhood”, she frankly and from a third-person point of view reminds us that there are children born into such poverty that our privileged childhood experience is beyond their wildest dreams. Similarly she ventures into a comparison of our sentiments towards pets and wild animals in “The Demise of The Coutry Fox” -- in a cool-hearted (and almost sarcastic) but still touching manner.
I read this book more slowly than is my normal pace because I was so drawn into some poems that I found it difficult to read the next one right away. It is not easy to do such a thing with a short poem, to compress a whole life or a whole human being into it, but I felt that this did happen a few times. The author gave me the chance to look at the world through other people’s eyes, for which I am very thankful. I will be happy to read more from this author.
Amid the joy and sadness of these poems, there are several varied reflections of life, such as being flattered at the hairdressers, but remembering not to give away too many secrets, and then on a more serious note the injustice of how different the lives of children can be depending where they are born, and back again to a more humorous tone, exploring the joys of being a grandparent (though I won’t spoil the ending to that one). I particularly enjoyed some of the more uplifting poems too, such as one about a young man finally getting the opportunity to flee the nest and the birth of a new baby. The author also makes good use of contrast and comparison within each poem when appropriate, especially so in Blue Planet and The Demise of the Country Fox.
Stylistically these are more of a prose style than the traditional rhyming verse, though the author does combine the two most effectively I would say. Most of the poems here tell a story, but again there are several more abstract verses that allow the reader’s thoughts to wander, reflect, and interpret according to their own memories and experience. A delightful collection I shall no doubt be rereading from time to time…
* purchased via Amazon.co.uk hence this review not appearing here as a verified purchase..
Although I have moved away from writing poetry to concentrate on short stories and novels, I can still appreciate the beauty and simplicity of a good verse. I’ve written several hundred poems and I tend towards rhyming verse as opposed to free verse, but within this collection there are some fine examples of both rhyming and free verse.
Whether new to reading poetry or someone who enjoys a short story in a contracted format, this is a good taste of what is available.
My three personal favourite pieces here are: ‘The Night Fire’, ‘Feeding Time’, and ‘Water Colour’.
The format is great and at the end of some poems Penny Luker gives us the provenance of some of her work - a lovely gesture to share with the readers.