Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Book Review: "Dirt Road Dreams"

Dirt Road DreamsDirt Road Dreams by Susie Clevenger

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I'll confess something here, right off the top, about a guilty habit I have. One of the first things I do when I pick up a new book to read, is to see how many pages it has. So, I knew, and yet, when I got to the end of this book, I wasn't ready. I felt like someone had snatched away my ice cream, or a friend with whom I had been having a wonderful conversation suddenly got up to leave. What? Already!? That should give you an idea of how much I enjoyed "Dirt Road Dreams."

The book is divided into three sections: "Barefoot On Gravel", "Kicking Up Sand" and "Dancing In Dust", each devoted, loosely, to a stage in the writer's life. Susie Clevenger writes in a direct, simple manner, but what she has to say is nuanced and emotionally rich. The title poem brought tears to my eyes. Other favorites were "Hallucinogenic Artistry" about a medical misstep, "Escape By Letting Go" which contains the marvelous lines "We'll leave a blank note/ for no one to read", and "Mute Beauties" which may be the freshest description of butterflies that I have read, and I'm partial to them, as the author is.

I didn't read this book without a slight quibble, though. To me, Susie's strength is in the genuineness and honesty of her poetic voice, and when, in the final section, she once or twice lapses into stiff language--"we shall" instead of "we'll", for example--it rang false. It's a little thing, but it bothered me.

Something Susie Clevenger is uncommonly good at, is choosing titles. I admired them throughout the book, and also, she is adept at writing striking final lines. Therefore, her poems tend to be "framed" beautifully.


My favorite poem, apart from the title poem, was "Bored With White Illusion". In it, the speaker asks for the passionate over the prosaic, and it contains the line "Let me feast on poems that feed my hunger". I'm always hungry for excellent poetry, and this book is that kind of feast. Highly recommended.



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13 comments:

Mama Zen said...

Adding to my list immediately! Why don't I have this already?

HermanTurnip said...

Great review, and I know what you mean about books that end too quickly. When that happens it's like saying goodbye to a good friend as he flies past on a speeding train. But, hey, at least you can always re-read the book. I've a few queued up to re-read in the very near future.

Susie Clevenger said...

Thank you so much for the wonderful review Shay. I take your quibble to heart and thank you for sharing it. There are times my love of poets of the past slips into my writing of the present. It does come across with too much starch when that happens. :) I feel truly honored and blessed to have found my way to the garden at Real Toads. Your amazing talent and that of the other writers there gave me the courage to step out and publish my first book of poetry.

Ella said...

Great review FB, so insightful and honesty! I love that it was compared to an ice cream snatched away~ :D

Cloudia said...

You're always so expressive!

:-)

Daryl said...

i know someone who will love this, thanks

Kerry O'Connor said...

This is a wonderful review of an emerging poet who has oodles of talent and knows how to touch on relevant issues and make her readers feel.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Great review, Shay, and a wonderful book of poems. Susie, rock on!

Raven said...

Like!

hedgewitch said...

I'm about half-way through Susie's collection, and like Shay, I'm struck by how she manages to work with very every-day images and make them, in a simple and direct way, something more than we thought they were. An excellent review, as always, and for once, of something I'm actually reading, despite the lack of a single hoop skirt so far. ;_)

Lolamouse said...

Great review of a really talented and genuine writer. Congrats Susie!

parker said...

Thanks for your comment and visit to Shutterbugs. This is my first visit to your Garden. Like what I see and read! Will visit again when it's not so late for me. My next post on Shutterbugs I have planned a post showing a red dirt road!

Sara said...

What a good book review! Honest and letting me know what had the most impact on you. Sharing a few stories without giving away too much and ending with that wonderful poetic line, which fits most writing and readers.

I'll have to look this one up. Thanks:~)