I am *thrilled* to share these two most recent reviews of I Am That Woman!
The first is by poet and member Bernice Lever of The Ontario Poetry Society. This will be published in the May issue of Verse Afire, The Ontario Poetry Society publication!
I Am That Woman Review by Bernice Lever
Black Moss Press, 2013 64 pp ISBN 978-0-88753-530-7
‘I am That Woman’ is a comet blaze of poetic words, a first book of poetry introducing Vanessa Shields of Windsor, ON. Her opening poems are blasting short lines of ironic humour on the physicality of motherhood and married intercourse: “Sneeze/ Wait for it/ Sneeze/ Squeeze again/” to “She reaches down/ Breasts billowing warming thighs as she/ Fingers what the day …/” Soon her pages find gold in narrative prose poems of gentle sadness for a dying grandfather in “ at my grasp banana skin tearing like his translucent skin the week before…/” Next everyday images of her children and husband convey her love — often a theme in this book — by “ It all counts/ It all matters/ Our love is strong enough …./” Great performance – even rap — pieces here.
In the second half, Vanessa displays her control over her extended repetitious and rhythmic short lines. In ‘The Man Who Bailed The Water’ with “Time sews crooked lines/ Beside my eyes around my lips…/” to bring a lovesick sailor alive for her readers. In ‘Sermon on the Porch’ is her excellent display of creating depth with counter balancing voices and views. Vanessa can stare down all those “silly lady” magazines with their guilt inducing slogans, and just enjoy her life as ‘Scattered Ecstasies’ states “This is my ecstasy she says/ And her words flow/ Rush to the canvas/ Like they are home…/” Praise for this book will be an added joy to her already quite blessed life.
Several pages by book designer cover Nick Shields seem retro, reminding me of WAVES, mid-1970’s, with too many line beginning with capitals and more than one poem crowded on a page. Nick Shields designed the cover art and logo, but the interior design was done by Karen Monk at Benchmark Publishing. I think Vanessa Shields passionate vitality needs more space.
Secondly, my dear friend and fellow judge for our Flash Fiction Writing Contest, Mark Bacon dared to read my poetry and had this to say:
Vanessa Shield’s I Am ‘That Woman’ is feminist literature in that it speaks to women and explores their many roles, but it goes beyond that. She writes of the emotions involved in growing up, grief, pain, sex, suffering, aging, death, thankfulness, of life itself and of love. Actually she writes of many forms of love.
Her poems are alive as she writes about exhilaration, jealousy, happiness and she sparks some entries with humor. The poems also show the sexual side of being a woman, a woman’s view of sex, the drives and the satisfactions. You find few euphemisms; some of the works are straight up sexuality.
Some of my favorite lines in the book:
“We French-kiss nuns and die in the Fall then / spring back to life in cherry pies”
“Laughter floating on the frivolous wind through my / Open window.”
“Like a helpless Thespian forced / To take the stage”
“I zigzag through the rooms like a drunk moth to a cheap flame”
Favorite title: “Why I Won’t Meet Tom Cruise For The First Time When I’m In A Coma”
The poems range from a handful of words to several pages. There are many situations, random thoughts and emotions for women to identify with or to ponder. Women will enjoy sharing in and discovering what Shields means to be a woman and That woman. Men will too.
Do you have a review? Please, send it my way!