Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dear Anaïs: My Life in Poems for You by Diana M. Raab

Dear Anaïs: My Life in Poems for You is a collection of poems by Diana M. Raab that chronicle her life from childhood to menopause. Raab dedicates the book to the famous diarist Anaïs Nin, known for her insight into relationships and for being one of the first writers of female erotica.

The first section of Dear Anaïs, titled “Each Winter Sunday,” is dedicated to poems about Raab's childhood. “Jones Beach” is about visiting the beach with her mother and grandmother every Sunday, and there are several poems that talk about how her father taught figure skating at Rockefeller Center and how her mother loved horses.

The next section, “No One Else Was Home,” features poems dedicated to members of her family, including her grandmother, her grandfather, her father, and her aunt. Raab’s deep connection to her grandmother and the loss she felt after her grandmother’s suicide is shown in the poem “To Dettner (My Grandmother).”

But now your body descended to the ambulance
and sirens swarmed like vultures

around the place I once called home.
I wonder why you left in such a way,

as the depression gnawed at your gentle heart, which cared for me (page 25)
The third section, “Poetry as Bird,” focuses on writing and how writers find ideas in even the most simple things. One of my favorite poems is “Tides of Wonder” because I love these lines:

We sit nestled beside splintered
driftwood of yesterday,
stretching ten birds wing span

and dream of spreading our own wings, as poets
try to decipher which
word to pluck

from their succulent buckets
to sprinkle into a medley which
one day in their dreams
or in some reality
will blossom into famous verse. (page 43)
The last sections, “Those Fine Strings,” “Surrender,” and “The Real Solace” touch upon such topics as menopause, love, sex, finding pleasure in the mundane, and the weight of things from our past.

I love that Raab’s poetry tells a story and is full of emotion, honesty, and intimacy. Whereas some poets leave me scratching my head wondering what they might mean, the poems in Dear Anaïs easily draw me in and make me think about my own experiences. Raab details her personal journey, but because it is easy to relate to her words and the moods she creates in each poem, it feels as though she’s telling our stories, too. Raab’s letter to Nin at the beginning of Dear Anaïs says, “The poems were all written from my heart and fluctuate from a deep place of pain to a high state of joy.” (pages 7-8) Raab’s words are authentic -- you can tell she’s lived what she’s written -- and I admire her for baring her soul on the page and sharing it with the world.

Dear Anaïs: My Life in Poems for You also was reviewed by:

Savvy Verse & Wit

If you've also reviewed it, let me know in the comments, and I'll add your link!

Disclosure:  I received a free copy of Dear Anaïs: My Life in Poems for You from the author for review purposes.


Serena said...

I'm glad you liked the collection. I think its one of the better collections on the market.

Marie Cloutier said...

sounds like a wonderful collection of poetry. I like that she chose Nin as a subject/object of some poems. thanks for the great review!

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I'd like to read more poetry, but I find a lot of what I have found so far to be really inaccessible. I am glad to hear of something that is a little bit more inviting.

Anna said...

Serena: I agree!

Marie: I thought the connection to Nin was interesting as well.

Nicole: This collection was definitely in the accessible category. If you decide to give it a try, let me know!

Ladytink_534 said...

Wow, very pretty poetry :)

Iliana said...

I typically tend to read anthologies when it comes to poetry but this poet's collections sounds interesting. I'm very curious as to how the poems relate to Nin (if at all).

tea said...

Oh, I would love to read thi book of poems by Anais. What a great review!

Staci said...

I've always shied away from poetry because it intimidates me but after reading Tides of Wonder, I realize that I might be able to enjoy this one. Thanks for reviewing this collection of poems and introducing me to something I might otherwise not read!!

Marie Cloutier said...

Off-topic, here is my link for MEMORY:
Of course you can use it! Thanks! :-)

Jeanne said...

I've heard of this, but wasn't that interested until I read your review!

Anna said...

Thanks to everyone who commented on my review. Dear Anais is a very accessible book of poetry, and if any of you get a chance to read it, let me know!