Classified by the author as a ‘memoir,’ GOING HOME by Nancy Richardson gathers a collection of the author’s life stories within short, non-rhyming poems spanning the 20th and 21st centuries as she bumps into a disparity between America’s stated identity as “Land of Opportunity, Freedom, Equality” versus the country’s reality. From the rust-belt of Youngstown, Ohio to the halls of Washington D.C., glimpses into Richardson’s days from youth onwards reflect the larger social, political and historical landscape in which “a life spent in pursuit of justice” is brazenly attempted — often with palpable, breaking heart — while not always achieved. There are potent peeks at a minister who gives the flock counseling at the same time as trust is taken away in a manner that winds up getting him murdered. Disturbing hints about human nature are dropped in an 18-line missive regarding voter protection, fraud, and canvassing with button/bumper sticker “chum.” During a stint spent trying to figure out whether working in or beyond the political swamp would be better in terms of making a difference, Clarence Thomas appears, as does Anita Hill, with an expression on her face most women would recognize: part fear, part anger, part wanting to please.
A series of memories from Kent State 1970 ruthlessly depicts in loving detail old-time music playing along with what certain individuals were doing, saying, perhaps even thinking as history gets made by unthinkable bullets ending lives at the hands of those paid to protect We The People. It can be tricky to get readers to understand the layers in a situation and come to care about individuals briefly depicted. At its evocative best when the verses enable one to feel and/or possibly transcend the tidbits of experience being portrayed, there are also poems especially in the latter half of this slim volume that hint at more potency than they thus far deliver. Set in an educational environment for “cast-off” children, for example, a number of selections could use further development to achieve full impact, as could poems such as ‘In the Obituary’ and ‘Metta.’ Whereas pieces such as ‘Mending Time’ sometimes resonate so hugely beyond the confines of their terse amount of words/lines, they become transcendent in an almost unspoken universality.
The reflective nature of GOING HOME by Nancy Richardson is an earnest endeavor, offering sweet and sour snippets of life in America as the author has experienced it.
~C.S. Holmes for IndieReader