|Reviews Issue #6 Page 8|
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We Became Summer
by Amy Barone
P.O. Box 2015
Old Chelsea Station New York, NY 10113
Amy Barone’s latest book, “We Became Summer,” is a wonderful collection of carefully crafted, perfectly executed poems. Each poem is a story, a memory she opens like a gift, and examines with a painter’s eye. This attention to detail fills her poetry. The following poem is an excellent example of the ease of language she uses to express a powerful thought.
Poetry On Demand
In his innocence
How could he understand
Reliving death and resurrection,
I doubt I ever possessed
For her, poetry comes from "mining tales from the soul," from "Reliving death and resurrection," from "camouflaging mendacity," and, "unmasking loved ones." That's not an easy task.
Words won’t come.
Do muses take vacations?
places on the bucket list that grows shorter.
or the wound that never healed from that day
Welts? Wounds that never heal? This is painful stuff she mines. Throughout her collection pain weaves in and out of her poetry, one tread among many. In her poem, "Healing Poetry," she writes of an experience at a poety reading, where,
that emerged and powerful poetry,
Clearly, Amy Barone believes in the healing power of poetry. Painful as it may to face a blank page, to "relive death and resurrection" Amy's poetry moves through a landscape of a time when:
we sought danger.
and flash a thumb.
Do muses take vacations? Maybe, I know mine does. But reading through this collection of poems I can't help thinking that Amy's muse travels with her,
One of the main treads weaving through this collection is music. You see this in the cadence of her lines, and in the music she invokes. For someone who, started piano lessons at four, and was slapped when she hit the wrong key, Amy's love of music and musicians is profoundly in evidence. In using song titles in several of her poems she creates an interaction with the reader—the songs come out of her memories, but the songs call stir emotions in the reader as well. The songs of her mother still resonates and in her poem, "Soundtrack to My Mother's Life" she brings that music to us with skill and touching empathy.
Soundtrack to My Mother’s Life
She loved to croon especially when sad.
Another personal hit, “My Funny Valentine,”
But she romanced life, found beauty elsewhere,
And so with her father’s music:
Soundtrack to My Father’s Life
He loved Gershwin, big bands, opera, marching bands.
My father studied violin at the Bryn Mawr Conservatory
of Music, a school started by his oldest brother, a lofty ambition
for the son of Italian immigrants and one of eight children.
The house felt barren after he left.
I salvaged his vinyl collection from the basement, making space
In these two poems we are given short strong portraits of Amy Barone's parents, pictures created by her use of song titles. She uses this technique in her poem, "Soundtrack to my life" (Page 21) and in this poem below.
Happy at Art
“Hopeful” and “Getting Down,”
“Homecoming” and “Kathleen.”
elated to be on stage with his Royal City Band.
I want to put an end to “The Curse” of blank pages.
By incorporating the titles of Josh Ritter songs into the lines of her poem, Amy Barone shows her skill in avoiding the pitfalls of a list poem. Forget for a moment that these words are titles of songs, and look at how they interact and flow with the other words in the poem and drive the poem along.
We Became Summer takes place in that very real, very magical landscape where adolescence and early adulthood overlap. It is a time when everything is possible, a time: “before we needed protection,” “before self-awareness replaced laughter,” “before ennui replaced embracing fear of the unknown.”
We Became Summer
Long before we needed protection,
Bike rides energized us on innocent mornings.
threw teen neighbors into backyard swimming pools
It is a wonderful collection. Get it. You will find yourself looking back over her book to find a certain poem, another, and still another. I know I did.