Sunday, February 1, 2015

After Love by Merle Amodeo, reviewed by Gail M. Murray

Self-published by author, 76 pages, available in hard cover, soft cover and Kindle here.

Pour yourself a glass of wine, curl up and prepare to be engaged. The deft structure and economy of language in After Love carry the reader along, making you think, feel, laugh and remember.

I have admired Merle’s talent since I first heard her read. I think back to an evening in El Grano when she took to the podium and began speaking. A sudden hush fell over the room. She held us in the palm of her hand, engrossed.

From the sassy humour of “Glorious” to the powerful depth of “Beginnings,” the reader is invited to discover the many facets of love.  As the material possessions accumulated during a marriage are divided in “Sweet Sorrow,” we sense not only the pain but the relief divorce can bring.

When love ends in “In Asbsentia” who cannot identify with the loss?
Your absence means that part of methat existed only with youis gone nowand I am a stranger to myself.

Merle’s precise language, definitive humour and lush sensuality are a hallmark of her writing. As a reader I feel the “residual warmth” of the lover’s T-shirt in “Last Chance.” How vivid the description in After You Go as the lover can: “taste you on my lips and tongue / feel your breath on my neck.”

“Nothing Stays” strikes an emotional chord as poignant pictures of past and present collide when a grown woman re-visits her childhood home. The reader walks the tightrope as well, for in our mind’s eye we not only visualize her childhood but perhaps our own. We identify with the poet, the scene, the occasion inhaling the heady scent of lilacs and linger a while in the past.

This collection has wide appeal not only to readers of poetry but people who can appreciate universal themes and good writing. I will give Merle the last word: “Poetry like love, works best / when you live with it a while.”

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Gail M. Murray is a poet herself. Like Keats, she seeks to capture the moment. Her poems have been published in Wordscape and Arborealis, and her creative nonfiction in NOW Magazine, Renaissance Magazine, Trellis, and The Globe and Mail.

See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Barrie, Brampton, Bolton, Burlington, Caledon, Cambridge, Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Niagara on the Lake, Oakville, Orillia, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Stouffville, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.     

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