“What We Do with Our Hands” by Cynthia Good

There is a place in poetry for working through personal trauma. Some of the best poets are those who have gone into those dark places we all want to avoid. It is the job of the artist to be unafraid to talk about the unspeakable.

This often leads to powerful poetry, but it also tends to create a negative tone that has to be carefully handled. Sadness must be countered with uplift, depths of agony countered by the strength of the human soul, and that sort of message.

So, while this book is definitely powerful poetry, it is of a single tone. At times that tone is raw, though often those are the effective points.

The only rays of sunshine come from remembered events with her father and the fine, evocative imagery.

Unlike a lot of modern poetry, this material is very accessible. This poet is very clear in what she means to say. The most opaque line in the whole book is the title, which I still don’t understand. The book as a whole is a story, and you need to read all of it to understand. Like any gestalt, the total is better than any individual poem in it. This is a slim volume; reading it through in one sitting is not only possible but preferable. The narrative and emotion ebb and swell from page to page, and small details tossed in explain whole poems read earlier.

A beautiful, sad story, which may touch us, but will do little to lift us from our COVID-era depression.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Presales start April 11

About the Author: Gordon Long

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