Hawaii Pacific Review: HPR 2012 Book Reviews
By Zoe Keithley
Roan Press Publishing Company,2009
Reviewed by Nicole Ward
Crow Song is a collection of poetry that takes readers first-hand into Zoe Keithley’s exciting yet sometimes troublesome journeys. Crow Song is an easy read, but don’t let the simplicity fool you; Keithley’s poems deliver strong messages about family, love, and nature which are the three themes apparent throughout the this collection. Crow Song is broken down into four sections: Circling, From the Nest, Scavenging, and The Long Iridescent Flight. Each one of these sections contains poems that describe different journeys through life. I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of poetry because of the imagery, the easily recognizable themes , the easy-to-understand word choice, and the easily accessible form which when tied in all together make Crow Song a must read for all who love poetry.
Keithley touches on themes that many people hold close to their hearts such as family, love, and nature. Whether happy or sad, Keithley sends out strong messages regarding these themes. In “Florida Meditation” Keithley steps into a moment of remembrance about her father who passed away: “My father’s strong warm hands/come back real to me/suddenly through a screen.” I enjoyed this because such literary pictures do come alive when you see them. You get a moment of feeling as if you are back with that person. Most readers have experienced a loved-one passing, but also remember their touch or how they looked.
In some of the poems Keithley combines two themes together to share an experience. In “let us curl up, love” Keithley combines both themes of nature and love: “. . . deep in the silence of the woods/God is so big we cannot find him/but we can find each other.” This is a pleasant poem, because all though it is very simple it has a strong message, a message that states no matter how small you are in a big place you will always have someone. Although these themes may be common among other poetry collections, the way Keithley expresses herself and her imagery made her poetry very strong.
Keithley is tranquil throughout all of her poetry. She uses her three themes to demonstrate how calm she truly is. Although her three themes of family, love, and nature can be seen as sometimes hectic, Keithley never lets that show. She takes the worst of situations and looks for the good. She never gets too complex with her words or the structure of her poems, but her poems convey strong messages.
Throughout all of Keithley’s poems she uses very detailed imagery. This allows the poems to become more personal than they already are because readers are able to picture what they see and compare it to something they have seen themselves. Not only does Keithley use very detailed imagery, she uses a lot of it. This makes the poems far from boring. In her poem “Shoes” she describes shoes she used to wear on a daily basis to fit in with everyone else. Each line of this poem gives readers every detail they need to know in order to picture what the shoes look like: “I used to wear fancy shoes/all glitter or bits of mirror/with tiny bows and sparkling stones.” As a poetry reader I felt this was a fun poem to read, because I was able to see the shoe as if I was looking at it myself in real life. Keithley will leave you with not just an idea of what she is talking about; she will leave you a painting containing every single bit of detail.
Some poetry can be formatted in a way that is hard to follow, but Keithley formats her poems so the reader knows exactly where to read next, and she also divides her poetry into four different sections. Each of these sections describes different experiences in life. Keithley stays consistent with her thoughts and emotions throughout her whole collection, which allows readers to sail smoothly through it. she kept the same tone throughout each one of her sections, which I thought was excellent.
Keithley’s collection of poetry lacks none of the elements needed to create good poetry. The use of imagery brings the poems to life, the form and word choice are easily understood, and the themes are pertinent to people of all ages. Reading Crow Song was a delightful experience that painted many pictures for me and made me appreciate poetry more than I ever have; it is a pleasant collection of poems that I think anyone would enjoy reading.