Saturday, February 8, 2014

Rhymes with Pillow by Sandy Eastoak: A Review

Rhymes with Pillow by Sandy Eastoak
A Review

I attended a reading on Thursday, February 6th.  It was one of the ongoing series of talks that the store I work at holds every Thursday.  This event was the premier reading for a new book by poet and artist, Sandy Eastoak.  The book is called Rhymes with Pillow and I think it will be of particular interest to readers of this blog.

Rhymes is a collection of poems all on the subject of Willow Trees.  That is to say that each poem has as its topic the Willow.  In addition, each poem is in a form, meaning that all but a few of the poems are formal verse.  And among those formal verse poems a significant number are in some type of syllabic form.

In other words, Rhymes is a tour de force of poetic form.  Among the forms are Sestina, Villanelle, Triolet, and Sonnet.  Among the syllabic forms you will find Cinquain, Etheree, Lanterne, Quinzaine, and Tetractys.  Eastoak’s Haiku are non-syllabic in construction.

The book sparkles.  The book also reveals how different forms, simply by the nature of the form, draw the poet into certain types of expression.  I have, at times, noted that some free verse poets are what I think of as ‘form deaf’.  I mean by this that they are unable to comprehend, or to perceive, that form itself is a conveyer of meaning.  During the reading Eastoak talked a little about her relationship to the formal structures and how the forms themselves lead her to certain understandings and observations about Willows.  She said that writing in a particular form was like putting a pipe in the ground and having pure spring water gush forth as a result.  I really liked that image.  And it is also what I have found with formal structures.  Looked at in this way, formal structures are not hindrances; rather formal structures are tools that allow us to access sources that nourish our creativity.  They are both tools that we can use and sources of wisdom that guide us in the craft of shaping words into significant forms.

The idea of writing in numerous forms all on the same topic is an excellent way to clarify the way that a formal structure will, in itself, open us up to certain kinds of understandings.  The beauty of the Willow is reflected upon from numerous formal perspectives in this collection and, as a teaching device, this collection has great merit.

The poems themselves are well-crafted, engaging, and have a wide range of emotional content.  The audience was clearly charmed by the poetry and the careful craftsmanship displayed in the numerous forms.  The book is an effective demonstration of the efficacy of poetic form.  It is also a treat to read; highly recommended.

Rhymes with Pillow
Sandy Eastoak
ISBN: 9781495227110

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