Friday, January 15, 2016

Poems by Clarissa Simmens

Parallel Universe Cafe and Other Poems

by Clarissa Simmens

Book Review by Ginger Dawn Harman

It can be difficult to know whether or not to recommend a book of Poetry. I find it almost difficult writing a review for such books and collections.  The reason for this is because every reader is going to respond to a poem in his or her own way. However, Clarissa Simmens has written an amazing collection titled, Parallel Universe Cafe and Other Poems. Simmens’ poetry is solid, uses powerful images, and provides a strong emotional reaction. Her poems grapple with ideas that are meaningful and compelling. For example, in the poem “Impermanence” Simmens’ writes, 

"We are all merely a Buddhist sand painting A created, colorful mandala Years in the making Seconds in the melding Of individual grains With the earth, water, wind and fire.”  

This poem provides the reader with a visual moment that conveys a big truth. From “Survival Mechanism” to “Self-Sabotaging Seventies,” Clarissa Simmens is not afraid of digging deep. 

A good poem demonstrates excellent command of diction and syntax. Clarissa Simmens has perfected the choice of words with each line as conveying to the reader a story and theme. My favorite line was, 

The silent gas seeped out and Swirled about Plath’s mane Of thick hair hiding the pain A life lived under a bell-shaped jar.”

With a balance of emotion and powerful images. I also like how every single word, comma, and punctuation mark is carefully place—and not one single space is wasted or unnecessary. The poems are clear and to the point! However, in the poem “Sojmo" (Hawk) Simmens almost writes it as to not elicit a strong and immediate emotional reaction. Instead, this poem has mentally followed this reader around for weeks—lingering and begging to be deciphered. It begins with,  

Dad was a great story teller A bard who hoarded words And plots, heard in the kitchen Where he slept on the ledge of a stove.”

I was captivated with the “shamanic hawk perched on The Tree of Life.”

Parallel Universe Cafe and Other Poems by Clarissa Simmens is a book that I could discuss for months. As a matter of fact, it has been a focal point at several neighborhood coffees and phone conversations with friends. 

"Calls for water To quench the fiery anger When faced with injustice Listening to barbed wire words That increase my fears."

As I said in the beginning of this review, each reader has his or her own expectations for a poem. And there are certainly no rules about how a poem should be written. Yet, when I find the words and topics lingering in my mind and evoking a response with so many of my friends then it is evident that message endures. I give my highest recommendation to Parallel Universe Cafe and OtherPoems by Clarissa Simmens.

“I cannot help you through that door We each fight our own war I will return nevermore…

"Clarissa Simmens is an independent poet--since the age of four--and a Romani drabarni (Gypsy herbalist/adviser). She is also a music addict, writing her poetry simply, striving to compose musically, including talking blues, folktales, and memoirs of life. She likes all music genres but especially classic rock, folk, Romani (Gypsy), and Cajun with an emphasis on guitar and violin music mainly in a Minor Key. She hopes to heal souls and maybe poetry can accomplish that."



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