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By Thom Kudla

Indie Reader Discovery Award

OUT OF CONTEXT is a work of elegantly-composed but passionately heartfelt poetry, organized into three categories – “Heart,” “Mind,” and “Soul,” each with three subcategories (in different order) “You,” “Me”, and “Everything.” Two introductory poems, “Zero,” and “One,” begin the work. Kudla’s poems talk about love, loss, fear, dreams, and God, about aspects of relationships that define and expand us, about who we are and how we shape each other and ourselves.

Kudla’s writing is reminiscent of Hafiz (particularly as interpreted by Daniel Ladinsky), in its sensual, playful, and warmly loving approach to relationships and emotions. His poems contain philosophy and heart all out of proportion to their size, capturing vividly powerful thoughts in a few carefully-chosen words. Topics range across multiple realms, including religion, desire, Shakespeare, politics, liberty, and self-knowledge, and he has thoughtful and thought-provoking insights on all of them.

Kudla is frequently quite skillful in his use of shape, rhythm, alliteration, and resonance to convey meaning in subtle layers, unfolding as the poem is read silently or aloud – some of these poems, like “Odds Are” or “Speak of the Devil” practically beg to be read aloud.  The middle-sized poems are generally the most perfectly-formed here. Some of the small ones, while clever, are a bit too carefully cute, while the longest ones can get a bit repetitive. On the other hand, one of the longest poems in the book, “The Presence of Mind”, is an intriguingly deft autobiography that should not be missed. A couple of odd mistakes – “self-affilling” instead of “self-fulfilling”, and the misspelling of Gandhi as Ghandi, for example – do not detract too much from the energy and vitality of the verse.

OUT OF CONTEXT is a series of exploratory, sensual, philosophical poems that engage the reader’s mind and heart.

~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader