Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Book Review: "Insomnia's Ink"

Insomnia's InkInsomnia'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."

Absolutely recommended.

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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.


hedgewitch said...

A great review Shay, which strengthens my desire to read this collection. I, too, loved Dirt Road Dreams, and for many weeks, it lived on my nightstand, along with my Norton Anthology and Wallace Stevens, for that last dose of poetry before sleep. Peace to your mother, and rest, and for you as well in this time of passage.

Mama Zen said...

Excellent review, Shay. I'll pick this up.

Mama Zen said...

Sorry, I had to take a breath. I'm so sorry about your mom, Shay. I've there fairly recently, and I know it knocks the world off its axis.

Outlawyer said...

A lovely review, Shay. I also am so sorry to hear your sad news. k.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

This is a wonderful review of a wildly talented poet. Thank you for it - the lines you noted make me anxious to order my copy. I am so sorry for your loss, my friend. I like what Joy said about "this time of passage." For it is a passage and a significant one.

Marion Lawless said...

I am so very sorry for your loss, Shay. Mothers & daughters---I totally understand. Hugs & Love... xo

Lynn said...

Dear Shay - so sorry about your mom. No matter the relationship, it still has an effect on you - it's your mom. Hugs!

my heart's love songs said...

i'm sorry i wasn't here sooner ~ may your mother finally be at peace and may you have the peace you deserve as well.