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As I read through Birmingham's landscape of shared peaks and valleys, I found at times a rich blend of "Notes from the Underground" with the poetic bend of "The Bell Jar", filled with the same kind of mystery.
Still, Birmingham's Psychology degree can be found punctuating itself inside a metaphoric Helping Hand. No serious reader of this collection can escape the nuances of survival, healing, and encouragement, as found in Flight Path, telling herself, and us, to..."Get ready to be extraordinary." And even in Behind Puddles I found rich lines that carried Biblical undertones--"A dark sky that lifts its skirt to / Release the watershed, and I wonder / What you see under her skirt that / You do not see under my hem."--smacking of King David and even Samson.
Birmingham's quiet and plain-spoken rebuttal to heartache seems almost clothed in sweetness when she writes--"Today, although I sit in the corner alone / I am warmer than I ever was with you."
Here, in "Versions of the Self" we not only find Christy Birmingham, but we find ourselves. And wise is the reader who looks deeply into this well so unselfishly offered up.
I loved the poems that celebrated freedom and could at times feel my soul soaring along with the words. Then different poems made me stop and think while bringing me back to Earth.
The poem, “Within a Few Feet,” shows the regrets that hold us back and keep us earthbound, all while freedom is only a few feet away in the form of seagulls tempting the author to fly.
Some poems show the gradual process of healing before being able to move on, then we come to, “Made to Write,” where the writer discovers her purpose and “I Stand Here,” showing her growing confidence with this last stanza: “I stand alive,/Healthy and complete, as/My branches extend into fresh air around me.”
We also see the joy of new love and the fear of that love diminishing or disappearing. Questions and disappointments surface, but then there’s always that chance for freedom and soaring again. “You, Colors, and Realization” shows this perfectly after stating “You were once a masterpiece”:
“Today, your colors fall to a wooden floor,/While I run a paintbrush under the kitchen tap/To clean the bristles and/Paint a new day,/Made of colors that I alone choose.”
Anyone who has ever had doubts while in a relationship, and I’m guessing that’s everyone, will find themselves here. Times of insecurity and despair combine with a blooming confidence and an ecstasy for life, giving the reader an overall feeling of positive energy and tingling inspiration.
We see the friendships we form with different people, how we push each other, help each other, inspire each other, and push each other away.
The theme of freedom floats through the pages, and it’s not always meant as freedom from a particular relationship. There’s a stronger sense of freedom from fear, freedom from anything holding you back from what you’re meant to do.
We see this in “Flight Path” with these lines: “You are more than your drenched feathers…You are meant to fly, I know you can, and/It is the moment when you turn can into will/That I will savor the most.”
With all of these poems and inspiring words, we see the bravery it takes to step forward into each day and the exhilaration that’s felt when we leave our fear behind. Everyone who reads this collection will see different versions of herself or himself, the effects we have on each other, and all the energy that can be felt when we find a way to be true to ourselves.
Highly recommend to men and women, to people who love to read poetry and to people who have never read poetry. To everyone who has ever been filled with doubts or regrets, love and joy.
The collection is extensive and impressive, divided into sections that relate in some way to the self. Some are dreamy, some are hopeful, while others explore a range of topics from uncertainty to resolution. The author's words form hues, feelings, shades, impressions. Take a look at this excerpt from "You, Colors, and Realization:"
You were once here.
Today, your colors fall to a wooden floor,
While I run a paintbrush under the kitchen tap
To clean the bristles and
Paint a new day,
Made of colors that I alone choose.
The whole collection is empowering and highly enjoyable. There is much here that will resonate with you. By creatively sharing her personal impressions, Christy addresses topics that are universal in a way that touches the heart. I highly recommend this poetry collection!
I bookmarked a few passages for myself that I know I'll want to read again when I need a bit of encouragement or inspiration in my day. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially women, going through tough times or just wanting an uplifting read.