Author: Michael Collins
Publisher: Saddle Road Press
Publication Date: 2017
Genre: Contemporary Poetry
Rating: 4 Stars
Esse in Anima
We are each ourselves at the harbor:
Runners run, readers read, children play,
I wander within myself within
the world, nothing is even wrong
with the distant cars in their straight lines,
driving from lot to lot as people
walk between ducks who simply sit
in the sun – I have given my eyes
to deeply to the breeze this morning;
I nearly stepped on one of them
From how it looked, he would have let me.
Dear fellow Babblers,
I was recently sent Appearances by the author, Michael Collins in exchange for an honest review. This is a spiritually uplifting collection of poetry – not a genre I typically will review for, but I am so pleased with this small, yet harmonic book that I feel compelled to share it with my readers. The only sort of contemporary poetry I read is Lang Leav, so I was thrilled to discover Collins’ work. Where Leav’s appeal to nostalgia is directed to love and heartbreak, Collins’ brings nostalgia a step further in coalescing the heart with nature. Typically a Young Adult and Contemporary Fiction reviewer I was initially a bit skeptical going into contemporary poetry. *One day later*…. I’ve read and reread each poem over and over. These poems have touched my heart and have shown me the beauty and sadness that underlies time and it’s passing.
This collection is separated into five parts, compromising a total of 49 exquisite verses. I will not attempt an analysis into the nitty gritty of his work, but lets ust call his writing style a Romantic mixture of Wordsworth and Keats. Each poem brings together the human body to its surroundings, be it fog, the sea shore, or the forests as a means to appeal to man’s dependence on nature, its static position, as well as its changing with time and seasons.
It would seem that the narrator is on a path to self discovery and with each verse, seems to come closer to his purpose as he becomes increasingly aware of the world in which he exists. The poems grow increasingly intimate and sensual as Collins traverses a variety of human emotions by means of his contact with nature. The speaker goes below the artificial surface of appearances in what seems like and intervention, or shall we say, interaction with his mind, heart, spirit, memory – all elements of his very persona – as a means of seeking solace and bliss through the promising, ephemeral moments granted by the world which envelops him.
I was very impressed by the style and use of language in each of the poems. They were powerful, evocative and had an altogether cacophonous tone which made them at once thought provoking and mind blowing. Collins uses vivid imagery such as “fleshy snowflakes,” “orange framed in a tangerine haze,” and “sun dancing snow,” reflective of his observations and musings on the past. All distinct, what renders these descriptions similar is their non permanence. Snow does not last, horizons do not remain orange, snowflakes get carried away come spring. Time changes the world and what unites humanity to this world is the mere fact that time affects all, nothing beautiful is permanent, and nothing young remains young; all must decay, change, and undergo transformation, therefore uniting nature and man into a singular, solid world.
Collins tests and plays a lot with form. Some appear to follow similar to an Alexandrian or Shakespearean sonnet while others are more inventive and seem to be free verse. I believe I read each poem just about a dozen times, all in different tones, including different pauses as a means to differentiate its sound and how the reading process would affect my connection and emotional reaction to the poem. There were subtle changes with each reread and I’m planning to read it again soon; this collection really is, that beautiful, not good, but beautiful. The intricacies and fleeting moments which we give little to no regard to in our everyday life is delicately placed on the forefront of Collins’ vision. He scrutinizes and beautifully recreates the world which we know, but in more translucent color. These poems are heartfelt and give one a sense of awe and delicate bliss, something that seems to fade, change, and intensify with time.
I would encourage all readers, no matter one’s genre preference to read Appearances. I’m more of a Young Adult and Contemporary reader so believe me when I say that this collection has that sparking enchantment that every reader looks for. It’s crisp, fresh, and evokes the sensibilities in a way that could transform one’s perceptions of themselves, who they were, and who they will be. With several references alluding to the soul and multiple reminiscent standalone verses which turn the eye away from the self and towards the horizon Appearances is a stunning read. I’m extremely pleased and honored to have been given this copy from the author and will be looking for more of his writing in the nearby future – more to come!
(Book image credits go to Saddle Road Press)