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Narrow Bridge by Robbi Nester

Source: the poet
Paperback, 96 pgs.
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Narrow Bridge by Robbi Nester explores the degrees of fear we face throughout our lives as things change. The first section of the collection sets the tone for the whole, as each poem focuses on change — a desire to be something you’re not in “Mermaid to Woman” and a re-imagining of Beethoven as a whale in “The Making.” There is a certain fear in change, but Nester calls on the reader to see the beauty in being something different, something that evolves.

 From "The Making" (pg. 3)

If Beethoven were a whale, he would
groan a song as monumental as his bulk,
one the waves would write -- always
in suspension. They would take an hour
to break along a shore so distant
none of us could fathom where it was.

Nester explores the changes that happen during childhood, traveling miles and moving to a new home, and how scary those moments can be. But there are times where the reader still sees the wonder of change as the narrator plays “capture the moon” with a compact mirror. Imagination takes center stage in the second section, and my daughter really enjoyed these poems when I read them aloud to her. She was reminded of the tents we made in our old house’s living room, and she began thinking up her own games to play in the car.

Section three explores the darkest reaches of fear, including a poem for the Sandy Hook school shooting. There’s also a lament for what America has become.

Sandy Hook (pg. 33)

...The teacher tries
to hide us, but bullets fly
so fast. Now she won't 
wake up, no matter how
I shake her. No crayon
could ever be that red.

In the final sections, Nester explores the fears of the past and places them into context. She broadens the scope beyond the fears of a younger self about her unruly hair and the wiser self who sees those imperfections as par for the course of life. “My past/quivers beneath the lens of memory,” she says in “Picture of a Life.”

Narrow Bridge by Robbi Nester is an exploration of life — its bumps and moments of joy — to find the light. She reminds us to push through and “recognize the stranger” in ourselves. She calls on us to reach beyond our fears and ourselves into the unknown to find beauty in the vacillation and uncertainty of change.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Poet:

Robbi Nester is the author of three other books of poetry: a chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012), and two collections—A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014) and Other-Wise (Kelsay, 2017). She has also edited two anthologies: The Liberal Media Made Me Do It! (Nine Toes, 2014) and an Ekphrastic e-book, Over the Moon: Birds, Beasts, and Trees—celebrating the photography of Beth Moon, published as an issue of Poemeleon Poetry Journal.

A Compass for My Bones by Diana Smith Bolton

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 39 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

A Compass for My Bones by Diana Smith Bolton, who read at the DiVerse Poetry Gaithersburg Reading, is a chapbook of poetry that examines identity by digging below the surface of the skin. The first part of her collection focuses deeply on faith and how it applies to our actions in childhood — begging us to turn away from curiosities that call us into temptation.

Communion

We might be sisters, she whispered.
The lines of our bodies were as empty

as the priest's gesture, wiping
the chalice's lip with white linen.
from "Three Scenes from Biloxi Beach"

I've seen black-and-white movies about sexy.
Like Lana Turner! she adds. I trot to the frothy water,
forbidden to touch it, and stare into the murky dark
as I stare at my life from four feet up.

There’s an ebb and flow in these beginning poems — a magnetic pull on the narrator leading them toward something and away from the child self s/he knew. When the section ends with “The Deer by the Lake,” the reader knows that the narrative has entered into an uncharted territory. Bolton uses the remainder of the collection to explore life through the eyes of characters and historical figures from Ophelia to Emily Dickinson, who had journeys into the dark and led to sadness.

A Compass for My Bones by Diana Smith Bolton is an exploration of the self and identity — the stumbles we take on life’s journey and how we handle them. Our internal compass is our guide after our parents have guided us through childhood. What of those who never made it through childhood or were never born alive? How do they find that compass. Bolton’s images are stunning.

Rating: Quatrain

About the Poet:

Diana Smith Bolton is a writer and editor in the Washington DC metro area. Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Bolton studied literature at the University of Southern Mississippi and creative writing at the University of Florida, where she earned an MFA. She writes poetry and prose, and her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and collections. As founding editor of District Lit, a journal of writing and art, she is passionate about publishing meaningful work and collaborating with other writers.

Mailbox Monday #517

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what I received:

National Geographic Kids: Make This! by Ella Schwartz and Shah Selbe for review.

This book is designed to inspire the next generation of engineers and supports all kinds of kid creators: those who prefer guided instruction, those who prefer to dream up and design objects on their own, and everyone in between. With thoughtful text and bright illustrations, kids get the tools and the know-how to tackle all kinds of exciting projects: building a kaleidoscope, designing a fidget spinner, planting a rain forest, creating a musical instrument, and more. Unconventional scenarios inspired by real National Geographic explorers give kids a chance to think outside the box and apply their maker skills to real life. Chapters are divided up by scientific principle, such as simple machines, energy, and forces. In each chapter, kids can start by following step-by-step activities, or get creative by tackling an open-ended challenge. Helpful sidebars explain the science behind what’s happening every step of the way.

Make This! is perfect for curious and STEM-loving kids, families looking for a fun way to play together, and anyone else who’s ready to get creative and start tinkering!

Narrow Bridge by Robbi Nester from the poet for review.

Carefully crafted, beautifully written, these poems are a bridge indeed between this world and the one that shimmers just beyond us. In one poem, the narrator is a small child trying to capture the moon in her mirror; when that fails, she catches it in a net of words, and that is what Nester does throughout this book in poem after gorgeous heart-breaking poem. These are poems that “sing for the joy of being heard.” ~Barbara Crooker, author of Les Fauves and Barbara Crooker: Selected Poems

In Robbi Nester’s Narrow Bridge, we are urged to be more open and fearless— Consider how a mirror tipped toward the sky captures the moon, if fleetingly; how “The voice of the bird/ in the maple/ is bigger than his body.” There are still passageways we can widen, if only we allowed wonder to make a bridge between our sense of fixity, and that refuge and home we could make again in each other. ~Luisa A. Igloria, author of The Buddha Wonders if She is Having a Mid-Life Crisis and Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #511


Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what I received:

Just Universes by Diana Smith Bolton, which I purchased at the December DiVerse Poetry Gaithersburg reading.

A Compass for My Bones by Diana Smith Bolton, which I purchased at the December DiVerse Poetry Gaithersburg reading.

President Darcy by Victoria Kincaid, purchased with Audible.

President William Darcy has it all: wealth, intelligence, and the most powerful job in the country. Despite what his friends say, he is not lonely in the White House. He’s not. And he has vowed not to date while he’s in office. Nor is he interested in Elizabeth Bennet. She might be pretty and funny and smart, but her family is nouveau riche and unbearable. Unfortunately, he encounters her everywhere in Washington, DC – making her harder and harder to ignore. Why can’t he get her out of his mind? 

Elizabeth Bennet enjoys her job with the Red Cross and loves her family, despite their tendency to embarrass her. At a White House state dinner, they cause her to make an unfavorable impression on the president, who labels her unattractive and uninteresting. Those words are immediately broadcast on Twitter, so the whole world now knows the president insulted her. Elizabeth just wants to avoid the man – who, let’s admit it, is proud and difficult. For some reason, he acts all friendly when they keep running into each other, but she knows he’s judging her. 

Eventually, circumstances force Darcy and Elizabeth to confront their true feelings for each other, with explosive results. But even if they can find common ground, Mr. Darcy is still the president – with limited privacy and unlimited responsibilities – and his enemies won’t hesitate to use his feelings for Elizabeth against him. Can President Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet find their way to happily ever after?

Christmas at Darcy House by Victoria Kincaid, from the author through Audible for review.

Mr. Darcy hopes Christmastime will help him to forget the pair of fine eyes he left behind in Hertfordshire. When Elizabeth Bennet appears unexpectedly in London, Darcy decides to keep his distance, resolved to withstand his attraction to her. But when he learns Wickham is threatening to propose to Elizabeth, Darcy faces a crisis. 

For her part, Elizabeth does not understand why the unpleasant master of Pemberley insists on dancing with her at the Christmas ball or how his eyes happen to seek her out so often. She enjoys Mr. Wickham’s company and is flattered when he makes her an offer of marriage. On the other hand, Mr. Darcy’s proposal is unexpected and unwelcome. 

But the more Elizabeth learns of Mr. Darcy, the more confused she becomes – as she prepares to make the most momentous decision of her life. 

It’s a yuletide season of love and passion as your favorite characters enjoy Christmas at Darcy House!

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan, purchased with Audible for Book Club.

Hillary Jordan’s mesmerizing debut novel won the Bellwether Prize for fiction. A powerful piece of Southern literature, Mudbound takes on prejudice in its myriad forms on a Mississippi Delta farm in 1946. City girl Laura McAllen attempts to raise her family despite questionable decisions made by her husband. Tensions continue to rise when her brother-in-law and the son of a family of sharecroppers both return from WWII as changed men bearing the scars of combat.

These Dreams by Nicole Clarkston, from the author through Audible for review.

An abandoned bride, a missing man, and a dream that refuses to die…. 

Pride and patriotism lend fervor to greed and cruelty, and Fitzwilliam Darcy is caught at the centre of a decades-old international feud. Taken far from England, presumed dead by his family, and lost to all he holds dear, only one name remains as his beacon in the darkness: Elizabeth

Georgiana Darcy is now the heartbroken heiress to Pemberley, and Colonel Fitzwilliam her bewildered guardian. Vulnerable and unprepared, Georgiana desperately longs for a friend, while Fitzwilliam seeks to protect her from his own family. As the conspiracy around Darcy’s death widens and questions mount, Colonel Fitzwilliam must confront his own past. An impossible dream, long ago sacrificed for duty, may become his only hope. 

Newly married Lydia Wickham returns to Longbourn – alone and under mysterious circumstances. Elizabeth Bennet watches one sister suffer and another find joy, while she lives her own days in empty regrets over what might have been. Believing Darcy lost forever, she closes her heart against both pain and happiness, but finds no escape from her dreams of him.

What did you receive?