Diana M. Raab‘s The Guilt Gene is a collection steeped in nostalgia that fails to glorify the past. The collection is broken down into six sections: “Cherry Blossoms, Book Tour, Two Evils, The Devil Wears a Poem, Yad Vashem, and California Roll.” Additionally, “guilt” is defined in the pages preceding the table of contents, although most readers are aware of its definition and uses.
In “Cherry Blossoms,” Raab revisits the bloom of her youth when she was just beginning to discover boys and realize that she wasn’t popular with her classmates. Hindsight is 20-20 in these poems as she examines how the behavior of her mother impacted her adolescence, particularly in “Moth Balls.”
The “Book Tour” section of the book is amazing in its raw honesty about never taking advantage of friendships because they are incredibly loyal and the emotional toll writing books, publishing them, and marketing them to the general public. Raab discusses how writing is a reflection of who authors and poets actually are, the depression that follows the completion of a book, and many other scenarios.
Author Blues (page 26)
If women after delivering a baby
why can’t writers
after delivering a book
Raab’s frank perspective is like a hammer hitting readers with a deep sense of loss in “Two Evils.” Her personal struggle with breast cancer is vivid and pulsates with anger, but also with confusion and a child-like wonder about the world around her. Like her previous collection, Dear Anais (my review), some of the poems take on the tone of a diarist, an observer of life. The Guilt Gene covers a range of events and emotions, and Raab will draw in readers through her casual tone, witty turn of phrase, and images that anchor readers to a time and place. One of the best collections I’ve read this year.
This is my 7th book for the Clover Bee & Reverie Poetry Challenge.