Friday, February 20, 2015

Book Review: Asking (Shawna Lemay)

"Listen. If I have known beauty / let's say I came to it / asking."

This lovely line, penned by Phyllis Webb, was the inspiration and foundation of a stellar collection of poems and essays titled Asking.

Author Shawna Lemay explores questions of beauty, inspiration, perspective, poetry, writing, and painting, as well as the different ways in which each of these subjects has an impact upon and is impacted by all the others.

Some of her works, such as the first in the collection, "Gestures," read as breathless whirlwinds, as a kind of stream-of-consciousness amalgamation of thoughts, colors, scenes, and ideas that keep the reader shifting focus among the interconnected connotations she suggests.

Others of her works, like "What I Love," are almost like list poems, with similarly related impressions brought together under one overarching perspective, and written with more directness and deliberate clarity than works like "Gestures."

Each of the writings begs to be read aloud, for the mouthfeel of the words, the superior diction, the beauty of the individual lines and the wonderment of the way the lines are placed and tailored.

I would venture to suggest that each of the writings is a work of art by itself, perhaps not as "visual" as a painting or a sculpture but nonetheless visual in terms of the emotional and psychological images Lemay's words evoke.

Don't think you'll breeze through each of these entries in a few minutes and move to the next. These poems and essays need to be pondered, contemplated, and meditated upon. Consider the connotations and denotations of each word, carefully chosen, and in relation to the other words.

Linger over these ideas --- aesthetics, beauty, wonder, focus, painting, creativity, imagination, light --- perhaps for days. It may take that long, or longer, to fully comprehend Lemay's viewpoint, and to formulate your own.

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Author: Shawna Lemay
Title: Asking
ISBN: 978-1-927079-27-0
Purchase here:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the author in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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