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MY SON, SAINT FRANCIS

A STORY IN POETRY

An emotional, captivating Christian story in verse.

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Heidish (A Misplaced Woman, 2016, etc.) presents an account of St. Francis of Assisi’s life, as told from his father’s perspective in poetic form.

St. Francis is known as a saint who believed in living the Gospel, gave sermons to birds, and tamed a wolf. Over the course of 84 poems, Heidish tells her own fictionalized version of the saint’s journey. In his youth, Francesco is an apprentice of his father, Pietro Bernardone, a fabric importer. The boy is a sensitive dreamer and nature lover who sees “natural holiness in every living thing.” As an adult, Francesco decides to pursue knighthood, but God warns him to “Go back, child / Serve the master.” He joins the Church of San Damiano, steals his father’s storeroom stock, and sells it to rebuild the church. His furious father chains him in the cellar, and the bishop orders Francesco to repay the debt. Afterward, father and son stop speaking to each other; Francesco becomes a healer of the sick and a proficient preacher. After failing to broker a peace agreement during wartime, Francesco falls into depression and resigns his church position. He retreats to the mountains and eventually dies; it’s only then that Pietro becomes a true follower of St. Francis: “You are the father now and I the son / learning still what it means to be a saint,” he says. Heidish’s decision to tell this story from Pietro’s perspective is what makes this oft-told legend seem fresh again. She uses superb similes and metaphors; for example, at different points, she writes that St. Francis had eyes like “lit wicks” and a spirit that “shone like a clean copper pot.” In another instance, she describes the Church of San Damiano as a place in which “walls crumbled / like stale dry bread.” Following the poems, the author also offers a thorough and engaging historical summary of the real life of St. Francis, which only adds further context and depth to the tale.

An emotional, captivating Christian story in verse.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9905262-1-6

Page Count: 146

Publisher: Dolan & Associates

Review Posted Online: April 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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ONCE UPON A GIRL

Therapeutic, moving verse from a promising new talent.

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Keridan’s poetry testifies to the pain of love and loss—and to the possibility of healing in the aftermath.

The literary critic Geoffrey Hartman once wrote that literature—and poetry, in particular—can help us “read the wound” of trauma. That is, it can allow one to express and explain one’s deepest hurts when everyday language fails. Keridan appears to have a similar understanding of poetry. She writes in “Foreword,” the opening work of her debut collection, that “pain frequently uses words as an escape route / (oh, how I know).” Many words—and a great deal of pain—escape in this volume, but the result is healing: “the ending is happy / the beginning was horrific / so let’s start there.” The book, then, tracks the process of recovery in the wake of suffering, and often, this suffering is brought on by romantic relationships gone wrong. An early untitled poem opens, “I die a little / taking pieces of me to feed the fire / that keeps him warm / you don’t notice that it’s a slow death / when you’re disappearing little by little.” The author’s imagery here—of the self fueling the dying fire of love—is simultaneously subtle and wrenching. But the poem’s message, amplified elsewhere in the book, is clear: We go wrong if we destructively give ourselves over to others, and healing comes only when we turn our energies back to our own good. Later poems, therefore, reveal that self-definition often equals strength. The process is painful but salutary; when “you’re left unprotected / surrounded by chaos with nothing you / can depend on / except yourself / and that’s when you gather the pieces / of the life you lost / and use them to build the life you want.” The “life you want” is an elusive goal, and the author knows that the path to self-definition is fraught with peril—but her collection may give strength to those who walk it.

Therapeutic, moving verse from a promising new talent.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72770-538-6

Page Count: 196

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

Endings

POETRY AND PROSE

Downbeat but often engaging poems and stories.

A slim volume of largely gay-themed writings with pessimistic overtones.

Poe (Simple Simon, 2013, etc.) divides this collection of six short stories and 34 poems into five sections: “Art,” “Death,” “Relationship,” “Being,” and “Reflection.” Significantly, a figurative death at the age of 7 appears in two different poems, in which the author uses the phrase “a pretended life” to refer to the idea of hiding one’s true nature and performing socially enforced gender roles. This is a well-worn trope, but it will be powerful and resonant for many who have struggled with a stigmatized identity. In a similar vein, “Imaginary Tom” presents the remnants of a faded relationship: “Now we are imaginary friends, different in each other’s thoughts, / I the burden you seek to discard, / you the lover I created from the mist of longing.” Once in a while, short story passages practically leap off of the page, such as this evocative description of a seedy establishment in Lincoln, Nebraska: “It was a dimly lit bar that smelled of rodent piss, with barstools that danced on uneven legs and made the patrons wonder if they were drunker than they thought.” In “Valéry’s Ride,” Poe examines the familial duties that often fall to unmarried and childless people, keeping them from forming meaningful bonds with others. In this story, after the double whammy of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hits Louisiana, Valéry’s extended family needs him more than ever; readers will likely root for the gay protagonist as he makes the difficult decision to strike out on his own. Not all of Poe’s main characters are gay; the heterosexual title character in “Mrs. Calumet’s Workspace,” for instance, pursues employment in order to escape the confines of her home and a passionless marriage. Working as a bookkeeper, she attempts to carve out a space for herself, symbolized by changes in her work area. Still, this story echoes the recurring theme of lives unlived due to forces often beyond one’s control.

Downbeat but often engaging poems and stories.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5168-3693-2

Page Count: 120

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2016

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