Insomnia's Ink by Susie Clevenger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Having read her first volume of poems, "Dirt Road Dreams" in 2013 and having loved it, I was eager to read this follow-up volume and it didn't disappoint! The book is divided into two sections, "Midnight" and "Birdsong", with the theme throughout being insomnia and renewal.
Susie Clevenger's poetry is so genuine; she strikes no poses, but that is not to say that the writing is simple because it isn't. She tackles the most difficult stuff, from life and death to finding one's own voice in the world.
From "Currency Of Dreams" where she talks about "my voice fragile as a faded alphabet" to "Blood House" in which she ponders family of origin and writes, "Somewhere in the puzzle I am a verse" the first section is as shadowed and contemplative as a sleepless night. In "Fence" she comes up with this: "Gossip has a choir eager for a new song." On every page I found lines I just had to underline.
"Kool-Aid and Brimstone" and "Change of Heart" deal with living under the religious preoccupations of others and how stultifying that can be.
In the second section, she seems to come through the fire with a new strength and wisdom. There is the redemption of "Moon Fed On Imagination" and the lighter than air feel of "Pickled Thoughts Without Fins." In "Pictures of the Silver Lining" she describes her daughter as a "tigress with comedic timing" (!) and in my favorite poem in the book, the victory anthem "I Will Dance On Your Silence", she writes: "Pour salt in my wounds/ and I will best you by healing."
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Note for my blog readers: My mother passed away this morning. Our relationship was tricky to say the least, but this book of poems, and all it has to say about pain and redemption, meant a great deal to me on this day, especially. I will sleep better tonight for having had the opportunity to read it.