A New Book of Poems by Eliott James

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Kindle Edition   $2.99

Trade Paperback   $8.95

Translations From The Manic Heart

A Review

By Jim Bennetton 


5.0 out of 5 stars   * * * * *


Relationships, personal growth, with a touch of mysticism, in blank verse.

Buy this book. James will then ambush you through your own eyes. The opening poem, In Our Dreams, is simply brilliant: "I sleep alone/ miles away/ and hear your thoughts/ over the thundering distance,/ feel your shallow breath on the pillow,/ watch you tangle in the loose sheets." Again in You Lie Weightless we have a love poem of deep subtlety. These two are favourites in this collection, as is Snow Softly Falls. It is impossible to convey the power with which these poems deliver the experience to the reader, impossible I say as I do my best to show this to you in small quotes. The poems simply march forward with cumulative effect.

In April 12 we have a parting, and a bit of mysticism, perhaps reincarnation: "... releasing/ my pained silence./ I screamed across the plains of long ago/ and across the table now I whisper/ I have always loved you."

All of this from the first four of forty-one poems. Anything beyond this has to be pure gravy, and the quality does not let up. James has produced something that will shift your mind, and for sure deliver the experience of each poem to each reader. In another favourite, Life Lines, we have an unimportant moment in traffic suddenly caught up in a deeply personal memory - which is the only remaining connection to the other person: "If you were to look out your window now/ you may sense that I have passed,/ once again, yes, I have passed on from your life,/ but for the memory of our passion/ on a hot August night."

Being one with nature occurs in Too Long, where we have this: " ... an owl to cry,/ a mockingbird to speak/ the language of the embracing night./ It began here for me./ I fell drunk with the world/and lost my senses./ I've stayed away too long."

If you're scrolling looking for the tiny carps, there aren't any. One possible typo. Nothing.

In a tour de force of loss and remembering, in Inner Reunion we have this: "not thinking of you at all,/ well, there you are/ on the vivid screen of my mind,/ more real than I thought could be./ My eyes swell with tears." Again in Wheel of Life, there is a mystic sense of before- and after-life: "We have lived ten thousands of years/ side by side, you have watched me,/ I have watched you,/ step aside for the now. /We are part of the same breath./ I touch your heart/ and you begin to cry."

Relationships need risk to grow, and in Dawn over the Streets of Chicago we find this: "...and I ask as I realize/ it is dawn over the will of our hearts./ Are we prepared to reach out/ to the rest of our lives...."

The theme of unity with nature occurs again in Morning, where we find this: "It seems that life lies in the heart/ and gives Being to all It knows/ as part of Itself. /Well, such a stunning thought/ that I'm moved to laughter./ Little birds now sing..."

Finally, in Midnight Come and Gone: "I have always been amazed/ at the otherwise silent energy/that a special woman can bring/ to this old man of the mountain." This is fine work. Again, the poems build and it is difficult to convey the cumulative force of the images and ideas. You really need to read this work to yourself and for yourself.

Back to the counting of stars. My personal guidelines, when doing an `official' KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. And, I have been moved by Eliott James' book. Five stars it is. Highly recommended.

Jim Bennett, Kindle Book Review Team member.

(Note: this reviewer received a free copy of this book for an independent review. He is not associated with the author or Amazon.)