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Eyes of the Poet

Exquisite Lush Perfection, October 17, 2006

"you laugh and
a river of warmth
flows into me
because for now...
I swim in your love"

~Kimberly B. George, When Love Flows

Eyes of the Poet is a book so exquisite, you may find yourself completely lost within the romantic dream of love, only wishing to experience everything a poet experiences in moments of perfection. Brian Douthit and David Robertson have created an elegant and emotionally fulfilling experience where life is lived as art and poets play with words in sensual beauty.

This is a collection of poems to celebrate love and passion as seen by over fifty poets from nine countries including: Canada, The United Kingdom, Australia, India, The Philippines, South Africa, Trinidad, The United States and Malta.

Zayra Yves' poetry is breathtaking in beauty and unveils sensuous beauty in a morning filled with cherry blossoms and a kiss mingling with tastes of olive oil and basil. Wanda Lea Brayton brings new beauty to images of reading as she remembers how her lover turns her pages with a "soft whisper" and reads her with a "silk-spun touch." The vivid imagery in "Japanese Garden" makes you long for the scent of orange blossoms.

"we speak in
breathless whispers
as I trace your lips with my fingertips
searching your eyes
for my soul"

~Rohina Anand, Whispers

Rohina Anand captures warm moments of connection. The lush intensity in Patricia Gibson-Williams poetry displays a deep connection with sensual writing. "Eyes of a Poet" holds some of the most beautiful poetry you will ever read in its soothing embrace.

This collection takes you beyond sensual creativity and introduces you to the unique soul of each poet. Exquisite, intoxicating, comforting and deeply intimate, these poems let you swim in the soul of the writer like nothing I've ever felt before. If this book was a delicious secret, it is one you would want to share with someone you love. The lush imagery truly speaks for itself and leads you on a poetic journey of the heart.

"in my winter room I listen
to the night wind
unbuttoning the clouds,

throwing water stars,
blue-tinted liquid florets,
against the window"

~Nicolette van der Walt, Eyes of the Poet

As you finish reading this elegant poetic escape, you may remember the ending to Diane Anjoue's poem where she captures a deep heart longing:

"waiting only
to be lost within again..."

~The Rebecca Review




The 100 Best Poems of All Time



A Classic Poetry Collection that Sings from the Page, February 18, 2007

Leslie Pockell's collection brought back memories from school, church, college, previous poetry collections and moments in history not soon to be forgotten. Who could ever forget the first time they heard "Ode on a Grecian Urn" by John Keats or "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement Clarke Moore. These are almost engrained in our culture, as much as "Amazing Grace" by John Newton and "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe.

Maya Angelou's "Still I Rise" sings from the page:

"Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries."

Many of the poems in this collection carry with them this similar fire, this beautiful tenacity and statement of individuality within a complex world where poets often reject the daily call to conform, listening instead to their own heart's desire.

"I'll walk where my own nature would be leading--
It vexes me to choose another guide--
Where the gray flocks in ferny glens are feeding,
Where the wild wind blows on the mountainside."
~ Emily Bronte's "Often Rebuked, Yet Always Back Returning"

As I was reading, I could not help but hear the beautiful singing in many poems, now part of our heritage in the American songbook. Then there is another type of singing, the singing of words as they create fascinating rhythms as displayed in "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes. "This Land Is Your Land" by Woody Guthrie should literally sing to you from the page as does Julia Ward Howe's poem.

Poems by William Shakespeare, John Donne, Li Po, Sappho, Oscar Wilde, Rainer Maria Rilke, Rabindranath Tagore, Robert Browning, Emily Bronte, Thomas Gray, Omar Khayyam, Virgil, Catullus, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Elizabeth Barrett Browning all dance on the same stage.

Some of my all-time favorites also appear:

Sea Fever by John Masefield
The love Song of J. Alred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot
Fog by Carl Sandburg
Lake Isle of Innisfree by William Butler Yeats
To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell
Tyger! Tyger! By William Blake
Ozymandia by Percy Bysshe Shelley
She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron
Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll
Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

"Poetry" by Pablo Neruda captures some of the energy and fusion in this book:

"And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind."

~The Rebecca Review





The Music of Words, October 17, 2006

"The first line of any poem is a kind of door, an entrance into the rooms of the stanzas, an opening. There are many kinds of doors, some plain, some ornate..." ~John Drury

Creating Poetry is not a book, it is a muse disguised as pages of paper within a cover! I cannot express my appreciation enough for this beautiful gift. John Drury's wisdom and attention to detail is inspiring and the warmth with which he writes inspires you to write poem after poem.

You can literally read this book and compose poems instantly as the inspiration flows through you. I was amazed at how Creating Poetry invoked the muse so effectively! Most of my poems appear as a singular thought or moment and then the first sentence will keep repeating itself until I start writing, then a poem flows through the pen. Reading this book, you need to keep paper and pen nearby because poems will appear as if called from a never-ending well of creativity.

"Some poets do depend on a flash of inspiration, maybe a good first line, before they sit down to work...waiting is their discipline. Like all poets, they are constantly preparing for the poems they will write." ~ John Drury

John Drury explores a wide variety of poetic forms and teaches poets how to develop style and feeling that will be conveyed to the reader and enhance the experience. For a long time I wrote poems without knowing what I was doing. In fact, my first book of poems appeared so spontaneously, I had no idea I could even write poems.

One of the suggestions he gives in this book is to read lots of poems and to indulge in the experience of reading them frequently. I cannot agree more! He also talks about playing music while you write. These suggestions are all very helpful. Some of the brilliant ideas include thoughts on myths. You can put yourself into the story and write about yourself as a mythical creature or you could write a poem about a painting or sculpture. The main sections introduce you to:

Developing your poetic sensitivity
Learning the fundamental tools of poetry
Refining sight - image, metaphor, symbols, vision
Sensitizing yourself to the music of words - alliteration, assonance, rhyme, sound effects
Developing the rhythmic qualities that make poems sing
Understanding the basic units of which poems are made - visual shape, stanzas, lines
Taking advantage of poetic forms - Ballad, Haiku, Ode, Villanelle, Song, Pantoum
Becoming aware of fine nuances - tone, understatement, dramatic monologue
Opening to potential sources - love, dreams, chance, thinking, memory, journals
Things to write about - stories, people, occasions, modern life, objects, subjects
Appreciation for Life - history, science, music, myths, painting, photographs
Bringing each poem to completion - revision, omissions, endings

Reviewing poetry stirred my interest as I noticed similarities within the uniqueness of style. What was it that so captured me in some poems and drew me in deeper into a poet's world? How do poets create a connection of souls in just a few lines? Often what a poet needs is an idea and then the full experience appears.

This book inspired me to write poems about love, silence, cinnamon, bookshelves, reviewing, bubble baths, candles, travel, eternity, hunger, dreams, music, friendship, autumn, wolves, castles, plum blossoms and even a poem about ships in a sea of emotion.

Reading "Creating Poetry" will inspire you to the point where reading this book may in fact inspire you to write 50-70 poems! You can read a book and write your own book at the same time! I'm working on publishing the book this book inspired, but I keep writing more poems! Creating Poetry Creates Poets!

~The Rebecca Review



Perfectly Said


Word Sanctuary, January 2, 2005

Reviewer: TheRebeccaReview.com

Brian Douthit's poems take the reader beyond romance. This is a world of exquisite feelings immersed in a profound appreciation of beauty. The pages are saturated with visions, emotions, desires and deep contemplations about current events. The honesty of expression mingles with a breathless depth of consciousness.

As Brian Douthit captures moments, eyes become sapphire mysteries, nostalgia weaves itself in metaphors and passionate moments are enveloped in poetic expression. The soft scent of perfume drifts through the pages like a mysterious muse wandering in nature.

As I bathe in waves of tranquility
Sweet scented honeysuckle graces the air
And I glance into the mild eyes of impossibility
To see rare beauty, rending the roses to despair
~pg. 36

Sanctuary was the first work of art to capture my attention. Brian Douthit paints love's sanctuary in a flowing inspiring honesty. The intriguing format is aesthetically appealing and is presented in a creative flow of words. As he conveys his thoughts on love, romance and beauty, he awakens the reader to the sublime. Sanctuary left me in a state of breathless wonder as unveiled emotions ignited my imagination.


Brian Douthit

It is not uncommon to enter entirely new worlds while reading each poem. "Shout Past the Horizon" becomes a profound declaration of individuality, while "An Afternoon with Rain" takes us to a world where the sky is making love in thunder and lightening.

In "The Religion of Romance," love becomes a divine expression as the scent of jasmine softly lingers in a poem filled with emotional complexity. "Answers to Everlasting Strands" presents observations about humanity's eternal search for peace.

Brian Douthit also covers topics of fascinating interest like the meaning of life or conflicts of the soul that play themselves out in "Midnight Ponderings." His descriptions of dreams, wildflowers, rainstorms, dreamy memories and enchanted kisses present ecstatic notions of love. At times nature almost seems to embody the connection between souls.

"Perfectly Said" is filled with poems that delve beneath what meets the eye as the intellectual dances playfully with the emotional in an ecstatic union of soul experience.

~The Rebecca Review


The 100 Best Love Poems of All Time


Elegant and Classic, March 30, 2006

How can I keep my soul in me, so that it doesn't touch your soul?
How can I raise it high enough, past you, to other things?
I would like to shelter it, among remote lost objects,
in some dark and silent place that doesn't resonate
when our depths resound. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Leslie Pockell has created a collection of 100 Love Poems in order to explore the many facets of love's expression. The poems range from passionate longings to realistic portrayals (Judith Viorst's True Love). There are images of love's transcendence and safety. Everything from ecstasy to grief is included. Classics like To Helen by Edgar Allan Poe are very familiar.

The River Merchant's Wife by Li Po brings elegant beauty and Strawberries by Edwin Morgan dips into memories of storms while eating strawberries in sugar, one of my all-time favorite poems because of the ending. Katherine Mansfield's poem about tea is warm and satisfying. The flow and rhythm in many of the poems is especially comforting.

The wide range of emotions within the poems also allows for a few moments of sarcasm (Love 20 Cents the First Quarter Mile by Kenneth Fearing) and even humor that is adorably funny. Your Catfish Friend by Richard Brautigan is witty and cute and looks at love from an especially creative perspective. This allows for poems with personality and lightens the heavier content and melancholy love often reveals.

Complete poems and extracts mingle effortlessly through the pages. Each poem is accompanied by an insightful explanation that also sheds light on historical facts and the life of the poet. In Love Song by Rainer Maria Rilke we learn of his lifelong melancholy and Leslie Pockell explains how he is conscious of the distance between lovers playing an "essential part in sustaining the mystery of love and life." Her ideas flow with the poems in a beautiful celebration of poetry. She gives only enough information to introduce the poem and does not provide extended commentary.

Poets featured in this collection include: Dante Alighieri, William Shakespeare, Howard Moss, Christopher Marlowe, John Milton, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Burns, Robert Graves, Rumi, Sir John Suckling, E.E. Cummings, Frances Cornford, Sir Philip Sidney, Guillaume Apollinaire, Juan Ramon Jimenez, Walt Witman, Pablo Neruda, William Blake, Robert Frost, Catullus, Octavio Paz, Tzumi Shikibu, Sylvia Plath, Li Po, D.H. Lawrence, John Keats, Ted Hughes, Margaret Atwood and many more...

There are 100 poets featured in this book. Whether you are a hopeless romantic or enjoy thinking about the many aspects of love, this book has much to offer. I can almost guarantee you will find 5 poems to adore, 10 you want to read again and again and 20 new poets you are happy to have found.

~The Rebecca Review


Crowned Compassion


Inspired by the Heart of the World, November 27, 2006

"I have witnessed your long journey
between stars.
I have seen the earth shape a story
under the weight of feet
as the seeker is forever walking
with Love stuck in the throat.
Come into daylight without end
where the face of evil is erased
where kindness lives side by side."

~lines from I Believe in Your Broken Wings

Zayra Yves is a spoken word artist with a unique connection to sacred sights of the world. She has traveled in Africa and stayed with influential authors in Southern Africa who influenced her writing. This CD not only gives us insight into her beautiful poetry, there is a radio interview with Tererai Karimakwenda that tells part of the story of her intriguing life.

Woven between the music of Allen Ross and Mike Thomas, Zayra Yves presents striking insights in a poetic offering in which all life is sacred and the sensual becomes holy. The intensity of the intimacy in the poems is freeing and statements like: "claim your birthright out of chaos" shows a spiritual awareness.

"I long to return to the sands where Lions roam, sit as sun statues
and roar in the night winds.

I have heard them singing of golden rings, of fire in my belly, while
ashes and petals blew in the alleys with yesterday's news."

~lines from Faded Hieroglyphs

Her lush sensual images paint landscapes in a melting of moments where reality blends effortlessly with imagination to express an inner connection that goes beyond mere contemplation. These poems are inspired by the heart of the world and listening to Zyra Yves read her poems presents new dimensions and gives expanded meaning to each intricate poem.

~The Rebecca Review


The Best American Poetry 2005


Vivid Portraits, December 24, 2006

"Your burglaries leave no thumbprint
Mine, too, are silent
I do my best imagining at night,
And you do yours with the help of shadows.

Like actors rehearsing a play,
The dark ones withdrew
Into remote corners of the room
The rest of us sat in expectation
Of your burning oratory."

~ from Sunlight by Charles Simic

The maturity of the poems in The Best American Poetry 2005 is instantly apparent the moment you read "In View of the Fact" by A.R. Ammons. This is a deeply thoughtful collection of poems best addressed when you are in a contemplative mood. Within the pages there are many surprises, lovely conclusions and especially creative thought patterns. Sexuality and death seem to be themes throughout, but there is also humor and cleverly designed rhymes the wittiest poets must long to master.

"Ants" by Vicki Hudspith is especially comical while Mary Karr's poem about her son is especially heart-warming and leans more towards a serious realization of life's complexity within expectation. Richard Garcia's "Adam and Eve's Dog" lightens a topic most would find quite serious and Edward Field's poem of praise has a beautiful freeing conclusion with metaphorical appeal.

"If I were Japanese I'd write about magnolias
in March, how tonal, each bud long as a pencil,
sheathed in celadon suede, jutting from a cluster
of glossy leaves. I'd end the poem before anything
bloomed, end with rain swelling the buds
and the sheaths bursting, then falling to the grass
like a fairy's castoff slippers, like candy wrappers,
like spent firecrackers."
~ Beth Ann Fennelly, pg. 46

What I am most impressed by in this collection of poems, is the truthfulness and the straightforward invitation into this sincerity. There is a cleverness in the crafting of each idea (I Want to be Your Shoebox) and at times profound lessons can appear through the viewpoint of a poet who sees the world a little more intensely (The Poets March on Washington). Jane Hirshfield's "Burlap Sack" paints an image of bondage and freedom, while Linda Pastan reveals a different type of cultural freedom.

Paul Muldoon's selections also provide a consistent mood and his love for rhyme and complex sentence structures invites you into a world of poems that reveal intricate details of your own life. At times his selections are realistic and edgy with mature considerations and at other times he has selected profound moments to inspire a more heartfelt appreciation for beauty. Both ideas seem to weave together to form a painting of how life is really lived in a realistic setting, as opposed to a more romantic rendering of ideas within a dreamscape of fantasy poems. Now and then, a line in a poem is so highly significant you can read the entire poem and then suddenly awaken upon a stunning moment.

"Wanting the tight buds of my loneliness
to swell and split, not die in wanting.
It was why I rushed through everything,
why I tore away at the perpetual gauze
between me and the stinging world"
~ pg. 133, Chase Twichell

I can also highly recommend the 2006 edition of The Best American Poetry, which is enhanced with pop culture references and a distinctly contemporary mood. As with all the books edited by David Lehman, the "Foreword" is well worth reading. David Lehman's experience in the world of poetry reveals ideas that will be of great interest to anyone interested in poetry culture.

~The Rebecca Review


The Oxford Book of American Poetry


An Invitation into the World of American Poetry, December 18, 2006

If you love poetry, one book will never satisfy your hunger or lifelong search for poem perfection. Each book offers a unique perspective and The Oxford Book of American Poetry seeks to present an American viewpoint with over 200 poets revealing their most intimate thoughts. The poems warmly present insights into the viewpoint of the poets as they comment on cultural norms or decry conditions of their times.

The first poems seem to set a tradition of extensive stories to blend observations in nature with descriptions of insights into moments. Poems like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "The Bridge" have a soft beauty and thoughtful reflective quality. "To One in Paradise" by Edgar Allen Poe is stunning and revelatory in its romantic appeal. "The Raven" and "Annabel Lee" also appear.

Many of the poems retain a historical significance and present a record of the emotions felt by those viewing the birth of new freedoms. The delicious culinary poem about "Hasty-Pudding" was a sweet surprise.

"I am the poet of the body,
And I am the poet of the soul."
~Walt Whitman

I will say that I became entranced by Walt Whitman's enthusiastic portrayal of life and his poems are an especially luminous moment that spans across many pages, which are needed because The Song of Myself (1855 edition) is included and takes up 48 pages! His soul seems to dance between moments as if infusing all he observes with an expansive optimism steeped in appreciation for all that he experiences. I loved these lines from "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd:"

"Lilac and star and bird twined with the chant of my soul,
There in the fragrant pines and cedars dusk and dim."

While most of the first 100 or so pages were completely new to me, hope dawned as I started to discover familiar favorites like "Wild Nights" by Emily Dickinson. "The Road Not Taken" appeared along the way and "This Is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams reveals beautiful images of cool plums from an icebox . My favorite poem by Elinor Wylie did not make it into this book, but I was pleasantly surprised by "The Puritan's Ballad" which is very sensual:

"Within his arms I feared to sink
Where lions shook their manes,
And dragons drawn in azure ink
Leapt quickened by his veins."

If you crave the sensuality of language and longing, there is much to enjoy. While most of the poems do not focus on romantic longings, there are quite a few sensual poems. Denise Levertov explores male longing in his poem: "The Mutes" where he presents a striking reality.

"Swan and Shadow" by John Hollander is actually shaped like a swan on a lake with its reflection and was a lovely visual surprise. Billy Collins' "Introduction to Poetry" appears along with "Shoveling Snow with Buddha" and "Dharma." Rachel Hadas presents cool crisp images in "Riverside Park:"

"...strolling lovers vanish in the glare
flung from the river by the westering sun.
I can hardly claim to be alone.
Nevertheless, of all whom autumn's new
russet brocades are draping, none is you."

While longing and desire do seem present in many of the poems, the sheer desire of the poet to communicate the experiences seems to be the main theme throughout. Dana Gioia's "Summer Storm" brings a moment as close to our experience as it can possibly be in a poem. Rain from a sudden thunderstorm is almost symbolic of a sudden attraction that is highly memorable.

Some of the poets featured in this anthology include: Anne Bradstreet, Edward Taylor, Francis Scott Key, Julia Ward Howe, Herman Melville, Edwin Arlington Robinson, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Dorothy Parker, E.E. Cummings, W. H. Auden, Kenneth Rexroth and Sylvia Plath.

It is my theory that if you find one or two new poems, then you have succeeded in your reading mission. Throughout this book I found many poems I not only liked, but I loved. Most of the poems were completely new to me and do span such an extensive time period (Poets born between 1616 and 1950), it is more than likely impossible to find all these poems in your own lifetime if you were to try to read a book by each of the poets. This is a much easier way to find poets you might enjoy and then you can select a few poetry books by poets you truly think you will love.

If you enjoy American Poetry, then "The Best American Poetry 2005" may also intrigue you. I'm working my way through the "Best American Poetry" series and have been impressed with how each book paints a picture of a year in the life of America.

~The Rebecca Review







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