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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Review by Kara L. C. Jones / Kota Press

Review by Kara L.C. Jones

Of My Soul
by Nancy Watts
from Rosecroft Publishing

We've published Nancy's work here at KotaPress in the recent past, and I was very excited to hear that she had published this chapbook Of My Soul. Upon further inquiry, it was also a wonderful discovery to find that this chapbook will be incorporated into a larger collection to be called Of Ways Of Looking At A Woman which will also be released from Rosecroft Publishing soon.

Of course given my own life circumstances, it's always the grief and healing poems that speak to me the most. Nancy's poem title "Grief" in this chapbook is beautiful and to the point. "I wear my grief like a security blanket/...So I pull it up around my chin/...to/Relieve my chill and hope for the day/I can recall you without a tear." To any bereaved person, you know how thick the blanket of grief can be, and you'll find metaphor like this throughout Nancy's writing.

So many of Nancy's works remind me of those unforgettable in-the-body experiences that are so overwhelming yet simple and almost overlooked in our day to day lives. In "Recall" she writes, "I stood in the shower. Beads of steaming hot water/pelted my back like ammunition to numb the pain." How many showers have we all taken like this? Maybe your pain wasn't from the death of a child. Maybe you lost a job or got divorced. But the loss is loss is loss. And this kind of in-the-body writing will speak to you no matter what your particular life experiences. She also does this kind of thing in "My Dad" and "Extinction" both.

There's another example in this collection of how Nancy is able to write about a loss that is specific to her experience, yet finds a way to address that loss so the poem will speak to anyone. It's another of those everyday ideas-- the actions of a person cleaning a house. But the loss is so marked here. It's really a stunning piece. The poem is titled "Living Dead." I'll just let the first stanza speak for itself:

I changed your room,
put up new walls,
and took downold feelings and memories.

You can imagine how this stanza spoke to me as a woman whose child died at birth, a woman who had to dismantle a nursery in a very untimely manner. And yet the loss Nancy addresses here was not the same kind of loss. You just simply need to get your hands on a copy of this book in order to unearth the layers of meaning waiting here for you!
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

From the book "Of Ways Of Looking At A Woman"


Of Ways Of Looking At A Woman is that and much more. Nancy Watts dubs this her first book of poetry but one would never guess that. A year ago, as a New England Writers member, she began sending me her poems for mentoring. She saved up quite a few and has that unique gift of being able to write a poem on demand, which she frequently does of herself. Studying to finish her degree and raising two children is part of the discipline that has gone into her first book of poetry. We not only see finished work, but the poems are gut feelings when a young friend dies or how she feels about her own children. Facing challenges, she steps up to the plate and does some of her mentor’s new BRIK poems. The results are more than being a housewife they are more Ways of Looking At A Woman. What the reader sees is much that is delightful.

Frank Anthony Ph. D.

She crept into your subconscious
Like the smile on a baby in the midst of a dream
She tests your patience
Like a kitten
Batting your face in the early morning hours
Yet her eyes sparkle
With the laughter of a child bearing a secret
Food for every man’s soul
But to whom will it belong in the end?
Shh. Don’t tell
Keep it but a dream
For the dream that becomes reality, is no longer a fantasy


The day I called your name
A tear caressed my cheek
It was a tear filled with joy
A tear brimming with hopes and love
For in that tear
Was the taste of salt from your lips
And the blue seas of your eyes
Whisking me away to a place I had never been
And in that tear
Was a reflection of myself
A part of me I thought I’d never give
To someone whom I could lose
Then your hand
With its most gentle touch
Brushed away my tear
Hoping to spare me pain
Not realizing
That tear, was all I had
To make me feel alive.

I saw my reflection in your eyes
Youth, exuberance and creativity
Now the heavy lids of boredom slip closed
And I must look within
To find my strength and assurances
But the dark is a scary place
The sound of your voice once told me
The words of your heart
But all has quieted
And the silence if deafening
You flowed through my veins
Like the river to the sea
With wild abandon and purpose
Now you bleed through opened wounds
As sharp tongues lash the heart
And the pain adds to the darkness
But I will find my way
Padding though the inner walls of my soul
Cauterizing the wounds, healing the scars
And I will emerge again to hear
The laughter in your voice
For I will be stronger
And once again full of surprise and allure
No longer afraid of the dark