"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Review: Ten Poems to Set You Free by Roger Housden

A strange thing is happening to me. I am falling in love with poetry. Roger Housden's series of poetry books called Ten Poems... have been the catalyst for this new found love. In Ten Poems to Set You Free Housden explains the difference between poetry and prose:
"Unlike prose, poetry does not explain things. It conveys the feeling of what happens. It articulates our deepest wonderings and aspirations, it shows us the world and ourselves in ways we might never have noticed before; it can name the questions that we wrestle with. Sometimes, it can prompt you to live your own answers in response."
I have found this to be true. The poem selections in this book, and his other books, speak to me about things I wrestle with and wonder about. They even have caused me to notice things in my environment and about my relationships. I do want to live inside the answers these poems provide. Housden explains it this way:
"Good poetry emerges from the wellsprings of the human spirit, and if we are in the right place in ourselves to hear it, it can call forth our own inarticulate knowings, and offer a mirror into the core and the truth of our own life. It can show us the spark, the fire at our center, which, in the end, is the only thing in us likely to endure, the one thing worthy of our true name."
Housden refers to poetry as the "fruit of the deep mind" and reminds us that it can help illuminate our way. In Mary Oliver's poem in this book she says:
And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?-1
Oliver also asks in the same poem:
For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters, caution and prudence?-1
I've been listening to the shouters for years. So many times I think that my life has become dull, a tedious condition to be endured. Poetry has awakened in me the urge to live my life and to live it to the fullest. Rumi admonishes us to live our own stories, to make our own myths.
But don't be satisfied with stories, how things
have gone with others. Unfold
Your own myth, without complicated explanation,...-2
In the C.P.Cavafy poem,  "The God Abandons Anthony", Housden explains how the author "urges us along with his protagonist, Mark Anthony, to embrace the losses in our life along with everything else. For they, too, are a part of who we are; they, too, play their part in the process of soul-making."
---don't mourn them uselessly.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.-3
Don't we all need this reminder to embrace both the good and the bad in our lives and then rejoice in what was and to lean forward toward the what will be? I know I do. I want to run and hide from my defeats, not face them. But I can do so now, being graced with courage.

David Whythe in his poem "Self-Portrait" asks us to look at our authentic selves. His questions here both challenge and make me uncomfortable:
...I want to know
if you are prepared to live in the world
with it's harsh need
to change you. If you can look back
with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know
how to melt into that fierce heat of living
falling toward
the center of your longing...-4
These are very compelling questions. Am I ready to fall toward the center of my longing? All the poetry in this slim volume challenges me to do so. Shall I begin? Rumi encourages me to do so, yet reminds me that the road will be full of bumps and I might even feel weighed down but...
...Your legs will get heavy
and tired. Then comes the moment
of feeling the wings you've grown,
I am preparing my soul for flight!

-1 "Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?" by Mary Oliver
-2 "Unfold Your Own Myth (Excerpt) by Rumi
-3 "The God Abandons Anthony" by C.P. Cavafy
-4 "Self-Portrait" by David Whythe.


  1. Hmmmm...I have always thought I didn't "get" poetry, but I do like some of these quotes you have included here - you are intriguing me, Anne!


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    1. I almost can't believe it myself. What is happening to me? It is as if I am seeing poetry for the first time and I love it.

  2. This seems very interesting.

    Thanks for the review and for linking it.
    In answer to your question: while the cover of Untimed seems to indicate a MG book, I believe the target audience is a little big older - YA.

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