HEARTS AND MINDS: A Home For Every Poem, is a somewhat simplistic collection by debut poet Kyle A. Wood consists of 12 chapters featuring five poems each, with each chapter covering a different topic, most of which are related to health/wellness and positive human attributes.
The collection begins with the chapter “Mental Health,” featuring poems about the importance of positive thinking and keeping an open mind. In a piece called “Time Capsule for the Past,” Wood wisely declares that it would be lovely if one could leave messages to their past self: “Words such as I love you/ sorry for being so unfair/ it was simple inexperience/ that caused future despair.” In a chapter called “Nature,” Wood explores the beauty and transcendence available in the natural world, often using it as a metaphor to express a hopeful, life-affirming message. In “Nature Lullaby,” he writes, “The winter is long/ you may feel numb/ but keep in mind/ soon spring will come.”
Other chapters revolve around subjects like bravery, thankfulness, forgiveness, and dreams. In the whimsical poem “Nightmare Knight,” Wood imagines a hero whose mission is to watch over us while we sleep and vanquish our nightmares — fighting off monsters and bears, and even supplying clothes in case of a naked-in-public dream situation.
Each of Wood’s poems follows roughly the same stylistic format, in that they feature three or four stanzas of rhyming quatrains. Some of the rhymes seem strained, and the lack of variation can become a bit monotonous. Breaking out of this constricting mold might allow the poet to take his ideas in new directions, which would make his work a little more exciting for the reader.
The Afterword notes that Wood has struggled with “his own personal demons of anxiety and low self-esteem” and that he published this collection because he hoped to help others. While the poems are not technically brilliant, there’s a lot to be said for a positive message and a goal of uplifting others with your art. Wood succeeds in this endeavor, as these are absolutely feel-good poems that will lift the reader’s spirits in times of uncertainty or sorrow. It would be nice to see him learn a bit more about his craft and apply that knowledge to his next book.
HEARTS AND MINDS is a colorful, sunny collection by a debut poet who clearly feels passionately about making the world a better place, but could benefit from a bit more technical instruction.
~Lisa Butts for IndieReader