3 out of 4 stars
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Auroras Over Acadia by Paul Liebow is a collection of poetry inspired by the author’s love for Maine and for America. The poems are collected into four sections: “Maine on My Mind,” “Life’s Beautiful Borning,” “Ice on Fire,” and “Sky Blue Mind.” Throughout the fifty-four poems, the author explores themes of love and loss. Many of the poems feature individuals’ experiences of tragedies like 9/11, showing a national loss in the context of a personal one.
Liebow is adept at painting pictures with his words. In the titular poem, “Auroras Over Acadia,” he twists reality into imagination with the sound of a glass harmonica and the image of the sky as a circus tent. This particular picture recurs in later poems, evoking the same emotion that he injected into this first installment in the collection.
Although poems like “Auroras Over Acadia” took my breath away with their ability to transport me to the otherworldly setting of the poem, others seemed to fall flat in comparison. In those that rhymed, the rhyming was often inconsistent, leaving me feeling jolted at the end of a line that didn’t end the way I expected it to. This technique can be used purposefully to catch the reader off guard with a turn in the story, but it seemed to be accidental in this collection, leaving me wishing the author had spent more time trying to find a suitable rhyme. Likewise, I occasionally questioned if a word had been added at the end of the line just for rhyming purposes, as some endings did not drive the story and only served to complete the rhyme. On another technical note, the rhythm of some poems was incredibly inconsistent, making me feel like I was riding on a boat in choppy waters. As soon as I had fallen into the rhythm of the poem, it changed, pulling me out of the story or image being created.
Due to the considerations above, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. The author has created some beautiful worlds with his word choice and phrasing, but the rhyme and rhythm of the poems could have used additional consideration. Although I don’t check for punctuation errors when reading poetry, I found a couple of typographical mistakes in the book, which also contributed to the rating above.
I would recommend this book to people who enjoy poetry centered around images and stories. The author does not try to make you guess at some hidden meaning in his works. Instead, he builds narratives that are driven by the emotions of the characters in them. Although this work doesn’t contain any inappropriate content, I would only recommend it for teenagers and adults due to the reading level required and the emotional subjects of the poems, which include things like PTSD, the loss of a child, and the experience of returning from war.
Auroras Over Acadia
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