The Light of Love

POEMS AND WORDS FOR YOUR SOUL

Despite some mundane lines, readers of these poems may enjoy Polo Campos’ upbeat attitude about life.

Polo Campos’ debut collection of poetry and musings offers a message of love and encouragement.

The author extols inspirational virtues in these 129 poems and spiritual reflections, which explore some common themes. Angels, for example, appear in several; “Angels Around You” describes them as protective beings in people’s lives. The poems also mention God several times, but don’t highlight a particular religion. In works such as “God,” the poet aims to present spirituality in a nonjudgmental light: “Because your God and my God are one, / And your faith and my faith are the same. / God is love, no matter what we call him.” Some of the more verbose works take the form of a single, long stanza, and read like conversations, such as “The Song of Life,” which begins with an awkward line break: “I wrote a song the other day, and the title is ‘The / Day I met You I never thought,’ (in Spanish).” However, many of the poems in this ample volume seem hackneyed, and sound as if they could be part of a motivational speech; for example, in “A New Day,” the narrator sings the praises of self-reliance: “So you are the only one who is in charge / As the master of your journey.” Likewise, “One Day at a Time” urges readers to stop worrying, “go with the flow” and “enjoy the ride.” Overall, though, Polo Campos’ exuberant paean to love is not without merit. Readers searching for soothing lines about inner peace will find a plethora of good vibrations in this volume. In “Peace,” for instance, the narrator hopes that readers will “walk the secret paths of the spirit” to attain true peace. Fans of romantic fare, meanwhile, may relate to the love poems, which feel like song lyrics; in “Just In the Moment,” the narrator coos: “You are the sweetest melody in my heart. / You are the only one I need.”

Despite some mundane lines, readers of these poems may enjoy Polo Campos’ upbeat attitude about life.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-1491044292

Page Count: 510

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2015

Awards & Accolades

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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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