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Precious Love
By: Karen Schwartz
25 Poems / 44 Pages / $15.00 US
Wynterblue Publishing Canada, Inc. and
Quill and Parchment Press
As: A Wynter-Quill Publication
Quill and Parchment Online Store
ISBN 13: 9781926614083
Review By: Ed Bennett

Before proceeding to the review of Karen Schwartz’  Precious Love, I should
warn the reader to stay alert when reading this book.  These poems lull you into
a comfortable place before taking a sharp turn or lighting the pyrotechnic of a
dissonant image. These twenty five poems explore life and compassion from that
of a parent for a child to the cold reality of the homeless and their dreams to
the destructive behavior of a band of pharmacologically enhanced poets. At no
time should you unfasten your seat belts.

Ms. Schwartz is also a double threat, having mastered free verse and metered,
rhyming poetry.  In her poem Broken Dreams she begins with the soft melodic
voice of a latter day Emily Dickenson speaking about Loneliness.  She personifies
the feeling and then asks:

“Is she looking for a friend or just to use me as her whore?”

The image stands out from her poem like a jagged mountain rising from a flat
landscape.  This is found throughout the collection and is a pleasant diversion
from poetry that finds its voice in wistfulness.  Even in her title poem, Precious
, the narrator looks on her new infant daughter yet wonders what her infant
feels when her soft skin is caressed by calloused fingers.  In View From Above,
the narrator describes her pet rat while describing herself (“curvaceous”, “curly
brown tresses”).  The pet albino rat has red eyes that:

"shine like taillights
on a white Camaro”

At first, one wonders where this might be going. Like any red blooded human male,
the rat dives down her shirt and begins “an unauthorized journey across my breastbone”
before being removed. After the struggle to remove it from her corporeal labyrinth, that
narrator brews some coffee as the rat leaves a “calling card”.   The humor and eroticism
in this poem is so well constructed that all I can say is that one needs to read rather
than accept these bits and pieces presented here.

Ms. Schwartz is at her best when she is introspective.  She keeps a steady poetic voice
in poems like Love Spiral where she traces love from it’s inception to a divorce.  In
The Menagerie a collector looks at her shelves of collectables and compares herself
to Laura Wingfield in Tennessee William’s Glass Menagerie.   Where other poets would
use direct images to cement the comparison, Ms. Schwartz mentions the collectables on
a “cockeyed” shelf, a very subtle allusion to Laura’s lame, skewed way of walking.

She echoes Flannery O’Connor’s book title in her poem Good Men Are Hard to Find.
Like O’Connor, she sees an everyday task like spring cleaning in a different light
as the trash slices through the heavy garbage bag “like an episiotomy”.

As the book approaches its end one is drawn into the empathetic feeling that the writer
has for her characters.  Again, don’t get comfortable.  The concluding poems concern death
and murder, though approached from a different angle.  The final poem Poetic Justice –
A Viagra Tale
is written in ballad form with a plot line taken from an Agatha Christie
novel.  Again, it needs to be read rather than described, as with most of the poems here.

I should end with a disclaimer and two requests. Ms. Schwartz is the poetry book reviewer
for Quill and Parchment.   I’ve read and enjoyed her reviews and accepted this assignment
with a bit of trepidation since she set the bar so high.   Whatever shortcomings are in this
review are my own and in no way result from this wonderful collection of poems.   My
requests are simple:

     1)  Readers, purchase this book.
     2)  Karen, let's see more poetry.

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