Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Review Tuesday Moved to Thursday: Another Autumn by Cara Hartley -- #ReviewTuesday #Poetry #Emotion

Another Autumn cover

Another Autumn by Cara Hartley

Amazon KDP, 2020

In general, I find it difficult to review poetry. This may be due to the fact that I write poems myself. Poetry tends to be an intimate and emotional mode of expression – much more so than prose. It seems presumptuous to evaluate someone else’s bleeding heart. You can’t just focus on the craft and ignore the content. Yet at the same time, how can someone outside measure or judge a poet’s pain?

Despite these concerns, I downloaded Cara Hartley’s poetry collection Another Autumn with a promise to review it. As I feared, the poems contain a good deal of darkness.

I find myself standing

On the edge of another autumn

Wondering if this is the year

That the world disappears

And I slide into nothing

And I am devoured

By all the foolish dreams

That I abandoned by the roadside

As I run from my past

Into a fragile future

Each new year as harrowing as the one just passed

The title poem hardly brims with joy. Nevertheless, it’s eloquent and touching, with a slightly jaunty rhythm that leads one to think that the future, fragile as it may be, might offer some new hope.

Then, a few pages in, I encountered a marvelous surprise in “Tea with Howard”:

Dear Mr. Lovecraft,

Please will you join me for tea

Promptly at three

At the Mountains of Mystery

Though there may be madness in the air


I didn’t know Ms. Hartley was a Lovecraft fan (as am I), though in retrospect I’m not surprised. In any case, this light-hearted piece was a welcome change of mood.

Then there’s “Greetings from Earth”:

Dear Alien Overlords,

Greetings from Earth

Where we are all pretty screwed

It’s a bad time in history to visit

When everything’s going to hell in a handbasket

What with the climate change thing

And the egomaniacs who are in charge

Catching the innocent in the crossfire

Of their petty pissing contests


Pieces like this spotlight the author’s quirky sense of humor as well as her unvarnished opinions.

My favorite poems in this collection, though, were the haikus. The conversational tone of the longer pieces is replaced with a single, potent image. They are exquisite. I won’t quote any of them here; to do so would rob them of their impact if you buy the book.

And you may want to do just that, if you’re a poetry fan. From a technical perspective, some of these pieces have a few problems, but their honesty and imagination make them well worth reading.

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