3 out of 4 stars
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It was the artwork on the cover that drew my attention to this book. The illustration depicts soft colors with a swan floating in a pond and the impression of a heart with a hole in the middle of it in the background. While it may be difficult to see on the small image, there are words written on the heart that identify human emotions. Judah’s Chronicles: Poetry From the Heart, written and illustrated by Em’ Aysha, is a short collection of poems and illustrations that convey “human emotion from a Christian point of view.” It is a short book of 29 pages with a total of fifteen poems.
Em’ Aysha started with “Matters of the Heart” which explores whether we should listen to our heart or guard against it depending on what it wants. This first poem sets the premise for the next five poems which deal with emotions like envy and fear. In “Anger,” which is poem number 2, I could relate to the first two lines, “Anger, it bubbles up spews, drips, and trickles/And can be deadlier than the grim reaper’s sickle.” In poem number 5, “Bitta-Rut,” she describes how bitterness can start. She writes “Thoughts of self-start to spout, as well as past and present wrongs./Distrust starts to build and the heart hardens up the fleshiness of its walls.” In “Travail,” which is poem number 8, Em’ Aysha says a prayer when going through contractions and waiting for her baby to be born. The last four poems are “Love Letters From the Heart” and are written to Jesus.
In all of her poems, Em’ Aysha uses a mix of rhyming and free verse within the same poem. I found them moving and straight-forward in meaning. One thing she did that I liked was switching font type to help convey the meaning. For example, in “Bitta-Rut” she used bold and boxy lettering: in “Fear” she used all-caps and print lettering. Em’ Aysha added illustrations throughout her book which I thought were drawn well. Most of the drawings were used as a background for a poem. Only two of the drawings were dedicated to their own page. All the illustrations were pencil sketches: some with bold strokes and heavy fill-in, and some with light and airy strokes. I admired the sketches because I thought they added to the poems. Another thing I liked that she did was to add the date of when the poem was written. As a reader, I could better appreciate the time taken to write these poems.
What I disliked most was the inability to zoom in on the page. I have the digital book copy and the font size was so tiny that it made it extremely difficult to see the words on the e-reader. Fortunately, I could display the pages on a 24-inch computer monitor. Several of the poems were laid on top of a pencil sketch which I thought was effective. Unfortunately, there is one poem where the image is dark and bold, and the words became lost in the image. Again, fortunately, it was easier to see the words against the drawing on the big monitor.
Since grammar and punctuation rules are loose in poetry, I compared Em’ Aysha’s style in each poem. I only found two punctuation errors. After careful consideration, I rate Judah’s Chronicles: Poetry From the Heart 3 out of 4 stars. I thought it deserved three stars because I enjoyed reading her poems and looking at her sketches. I had two reasons for deducting one star. First is the inability to zoom in. Because the font size is so small, it is absolutely crucial for this tool to be enabled for readers who find it difficult to read the small print. Second, the words became lost when they overlapped a dark image. I would recommend this book for anyone who follows the Christian faith or might be struggling and want to read words of encouragement. Em’ Aysha stated about her poetry, “May it provide a solution of solace and peace to all who read it.”
Judah's Chronicles: Poetry From the Heart
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