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By Aldyth Irvine-Harrison

IR Rating:
Lovers of poetry who are looking for laughter, literary allusions, and a skeptical-but-not-jaded view of humanity will enjoy the lyrics of Aldyth Irvine-Harrison's KINDNESS CAPERS AND CONUNDRUMS.
IR Approved

A collection of short lyric poems whose subjects include nature, history, and trenchant observations of others.

Retired school teacher-turned-poet Aldyth Irvine-Harrison already had two books of poetry, Patches in & out Two Centuries and From A Strident World of Soft Prevailing Things. Now she continues her pattern of short yet stirring lyrics–as well as fascinating titles–with KINDNESS CAPERS AND CONUNDRUMS.

The poems are a medley of inspirations. Some invoke the Imagists–Ezra Pound, Hilda Doolittle, or William Carlos Williams. It is easy to imagine Williams in particular penning these lines on the back of his prescription pad at the end of a long day at Passaic General Hospital: “There is nourishment in a clear spring / Tons to eat from the saline deep / Their fruits starchy tubers from the deep earth.” Others recall the playful yet impenetrable style of John Ashbery and the New York School (“The world’s longest poem lay / within If we were to record / connections of things – ropes of / life connects much from amoeba / invisible to planets perhaps / divisible”). One of the gems of this collection is the last poem, “No Absolutes,” which, in its low-profile formalism matched by a keen observation of human foibles, seems like one that Emily Dickinson might have written. The short poem is worth quoting in full: “Nothing is perfect naught sublime / We constantly live with the fear of two minds / So why can’t we accept the seesaw and show / That we can openly live with both yes and no.”

A few of the poems, most notably “Parade of Blessings,” are narratives, and these are less compelling. Good narratives require a commitment to world-building that these poems, with their dashed-off quality, don’t seem to have. When Irvine-Harrison leans into the lyric form, however, she shines. Her best quality might be a penchant for analogies the average writer wouldn’t make, and “Conundrum” has one of the best examples: “A conundrum is a bull in the / middle of an unfinished road.” Anyone reading that line will nod and think, “Yes, of course. How could it be otherwise?”

Lovers of poetry who are looking for laughter, literary allusions, and a skeptical-but-not-jaded view of humanity will enjoy the lyrics of Aldyth Irvine-Harrison’s KINDNESS CAPERS AND CONUNDRUMS.

~Anthony Aycock for IndieReader

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