Love. A four letter word that even when whispered can rip the soul apart, leaving a path of destruction and despair in its wake. It strikes like a viper and leaves it poisoned. The heart is a fighter, a survivor, it self-heals and optimistically awaits the loving embrace of another. For it knows it is better to have loved than to never of loved at all.
Today dear readers I am reviewing Never One For Promises ( Published By Kelsay Books November 2018 ) By Sarah A. Etlinger. A big thank you to the author for my copy to review, always appreciated. And also to Fly On The Wall Press who recommend that I have a read of this captivating poetry.
About The Author
Sarah A. Etlinger holds a BA in English from Skidmore College, an MA in English from Syracuse University, and a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Composition (English) from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Scholarly interests include new media studies, first-year composition, feminist literature, the Beatles, and popular culture. Currently, she is Associate professor of Composition and Literature at Rock Valley College where she teaches courses in composition, film, and literature. Her poems can be found in a variety of literary magazines, including The Penwood Review, The Magnolia Review, Brine (where she was September’s featured Poet of the Month) and many others.
Never One For Promises
‘I studied music for years. All of those years learning to read the notes and play in rhythm was an education in itself and paved the way for poetry.’
Sarah Etlinger’s poetry is music, an education in the rhythm and space of silence within those musical melodies. Etlinger’s poetry is a beautiful collection of images of lovers and how they connect and disconnect. From Noah to Zeus to Kant readers to God on the subway, Etlinger carries the reader through a narrative of love, hope, and loss.
The imagery that Etlinger presents to the reader in her poetry is strong and breathtaking. These poems are engaging and surround the reader with a mixture of emotions. The heartache and broken promises cut deep, it is an ache that any reader can relate to.
What I enjoyed most about these poems was how Etlinger captures life in all its complicated glory. In Still Life with Poetry the reader people-watches a couple in the library. The narrator notices all the fine little details that people often miss. It’s fascinating to read the interaction of strangers and to draw your own conclusions to the relationship. It made me think about how we often portray a façade to the outside world but in our quietest moments, the mask slips and even a stranger can see the real you. After all, we are only human.
She turns her head to him, but he is not looking
at her. His eyes stare ahead, flit to his page
and back again. He is bored, there, with her;
I can tell. He is restless; his stare betrays
wanderlust, longing for fulfilment beyond
the pages of philosophers.
Does she know? Can she tell
how he can’t hide his boredom?
I loved the strong, vivid imagery that Etlinger paints in her poems, especially in Pears. The vision of bodies touching is hypnotic. Also the metaphor of her slicing a pear is striking and relatable reminding the reader that we are only flesh, a single cut can draw blood and leave a scar. I adore this use of creativity in poetry as it always reminds me personally why I love this mesmerising language.
I said I’d cut a pear for lunch.
In my hands it looked bulky, squeezed
(as if there were too much inside),
the skin bulbous and stretched,
scars speckled like smeared mascara
over its lumps.
The knife slid too easily through its body.
A perfect slice fell onto the plate suddenly,
as if warning me that a cut is always final.
One of the many things I love about poetry is how much comfort the poet’s words can bring the reader. Etlinger’s poetry is much like a beloved friend who is always there with advice, a cuddle and cup of tea when you feel lost. She doesn’t sugarcoat the truth and reassures you that it’s ok to feel, to cry, it is human. She bleeds her heartache, her pain, her lust and desires over the page, naked and vulnerable for all to see. It’s inspiring and heartbreaking as you realise how relatable the human condition can be. I admire Etlinger’s bravery to share her pain and passion in the form of poetry. Much praise for her honesty and strength.
The brief gasp of January’s thaw
reminds me of spring—
when I grew to love you.
Tomorrow, ice will coat
the windowpanes, easy
as you breathe on my neck,
and just as cold.
I give Never One For Promises By Sarah A. Etlinger a Four out of Five paw rating.
Beautiful and full of passion, these poems are a delight to indulge in. Etlinger brings music and life to her poetry and it’s simply breathtaking to behold. I highly recommend it to everyone, it would make a lovely Christmas present this year under a dear friend’s tree. What better gift is there than the gift of poetry dear reader? It’s just so wonderful. Bliss.
Hop hop wiggle wiggle