Shanti Arts Publishing

Sonnets by Theresa Rodriguez

sonnets
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By Lynette G. Esposito
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In Sonnets, published by Shanti Arts Publishing in Brunswick, Maine, Theresa Rodriguez executes the Shakespearean form and other sonnet forms in a delightful variant of topics.
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The seventy-five pages of sonnets explore universal themes from love and loss to desire and faith. On page seventeen, Rodriguez presents a Spenserian Sonnet in which she acknowledges she is new to the form.
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          Another form of poetry for me:
          The Poetic forms concrete, sublime, refined;
          Another type of sonnet flowing free:
          The product of a careful, studied mind.
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As with other endeavors in this poetic volume, she addresses what it is to write as well as the intellectual discipline to write in a particular form.
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         In joyous new discovery do I find
        The puzzle-solving mental different way;
        Creative energy will flow in kind
        In all that I can do, and write, and say.
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The next quatrain addresses the complexity of staying in form almost as if there is a fight between the writer and the words as she works to fit the words into their rightful places.
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        If every word would thus obey
       The many thoughts that full within me spring,
       Then I could make a miracle today,
       And I would birth a brand-new thing.
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Rodriguez skillfully keeps control of the form and pulls it together with the final couplet.
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         Oh, could I create a worthiness in this:
         That not a word would here appear amiss.
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To write in a particular form, a writer must always be aware of the rules.  To marry content into the verse that has particular rules, requires the writer to have both discipline and focus.  Rodriguez displays both all through the book.
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In her Petrarchan Sonnet on page eighteen, Rodriguez, in two stanzas and the standard fourteen lines, honors Petrarch and humbles herself to achieve the form. On page twenty-nine, Rodriguez speaks of unrequited love in her poem You’ve Made it Clear.  She says in the poem:  I know that love is never made by force and ends the poem with
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          For though I’ve longed for you in every way,
          I also love enough to stay away.
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The poem succeeds in a traditional theme of desire and loss.
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On page sixty-seven, Rodriguez addresses how the young lose faith in The Prayers of Youth.
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          The prayers of youth begin with fervent heat,
          And all the passions of a lover’s love,
          And all the ardor of an earnest sweet,
         Excited faith, transcendent from above.
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She follows the theme through the aging process as youthful faith cools and the ardor diminishes.  The sonnet is successful in presenting the changes as youth matures and perceptions adjust to a different way of thinking. The couplet closes the poem with a plea.
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        Oh, keep me on the warm and lighted way
       That you might fan me when I go astray.
It is interesting that the ending couplet gives direct address to a higher power with a passionate prayer.
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If you are a lover of the sonnet form, there is plenty in this tome to enjoy.  I found Rodriguez dealt a little too much on her involvement in discovering various forms of sonnets and her self- awareness of her reaction to the various sonnet forms.  Overall, reading and re-reading. the book was an enjoyable exercise in sonnet exploration.
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You can find the book here: Sonnets
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Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University,  Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University.
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Longer Thoughts by Theresa Rodriguez

RODRIGUEZ_LONGER_COVER_FRONT_SMALL
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By Lynette G. Esposito
In Longer Thoughts, published by Shanti Arts Publishing in Brunswick, Maine, Theresa Rodriguez presents a plethora of poems in varying lengths and forms that address universal themes, famous figures, and clever images.
Carol Smallwood, an interviewer, editor and literary judge, grasps the essence of Longer Thoughts: “While mastering classical poetry, Theresa Rodriguez expresses the deepest emotions; she reigns whether settings are in the past or present leaving us in awe.” 
 I think she is right on.  Rodriguez goes from free verse to villanelle to sonnet with ease and mixes her subjects with astute observation and skill.
On page seventeen in the poem Dance of two Spirits the narrator envisions a relationship both at peace and in conflict with a poem that moves and reads like musical lyrics. The first stanza sets the situation.
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                         As we swirl each other
                         each in and out-of-sync dance
                         with the other
                         our movements both
                        embrace and collide
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The poem proceeds with eleven more stanzas in free verse form revealing how the addresser and addressee are interacting. The stanzas have uneven lines which gives an uneven musical pace.  The three final stanzas provide closure and non closure at the same time which is very clever of Rodriguez.  The ending suggests how love is complex and distrustful but hopeful.  She reveals the universal ups and downs and uncertainty of people in love.
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                      And then we attempt again
                      the dance of two spirits
                      wondering if the meeting
                     will result in cacophony
                     and clash
                     or tunefulness and harmony.
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                    Always on alert,
                    always circling,
                    always fearful,
                   always cautious,
                   coming around again and
                   again,
                 checking, moving, eyeing swaying,
                 on tip-toe and quiet, steady breath,
                 to circle with you again in a questionable dance.
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On page twenty-eight, Rodriguez writes an ode to Johann Sebastian Bach and his music.  I touch the pages of your music, the poem begins.  In five stanzas the narrator praises Bach and how his music has affected her. She notes in stanza three So truly blessed, to know the forms In which you wrote.  The poem projects a sincere voice of appreciation and a deep knowledge of Bach’s music.  She closes this five- stanza poem with:
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                  And so I feel a part of you my own;
                  A touch of soul-mate, friend, the great Sebastian.
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She chooses a well-known and revered musician and skillfully makes it personal.
On a more common subject, Rodriguez addresses Insomnia on page thirty-eight.
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                   In this sleepless state of night
                   relief escapes me.  How I yearn to find
                   a rest that does not come.  Within my mind
                  are waking thoughts I have to fight.
In this poem, Rodriguez presents a situation that many go through in fighting to find sleep but must be awake during the day after a sleepless night.  The poem is clear and the images suggestive of that restless struggle to shut the mind down.
The tome is forty-five pages of poetic pleasure of introspection and reflection. It is good for a quiet read in a comfortable chair.
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Longer Thoughts is available from Shanti Arts — Nature, Art, Spirit
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Lynette G. Esposito has been an Adjunct Professor at Rowan University, Burlington County and Camden County Colleges. She has taught creative writing and conducted workshops in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  Mrs. Esposito holds a BA in English from the University of Illinois and an MA in Creative Writing and English Literature from Rutgers University.
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Oblique Music: A Book of Hours by Elizabeth Bodien

oblique

By Jenny Ward Angyal

a life entire
in the swoop of a blackbird
wing flash of red
sufficient this morning
for a rising up of wonder
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Poet Elizabeth Bodien has captured ‘a life entire’ in the 102 tanka of this handsome little book. Subtitled A Book of Hours, it is divided into nine sections inspired by the traditional structure of the liturgical day. Each section opens with essentially the same photograph of the sun over water, but the colors of the image and the sun’s position within it change to reflect the time of day or night, until we reach the final section, ‘Beyond’, which opens with an image of star-filled sky. The poems are printed in restful periwinkle ink on creamy blue-white paper; one poem per page allows plenty of time and space to contemplate each small gem. .

And it is of course the poems themselves that matter most. The poems in this collection, most of which first appeared in various tanka journals over the course of a decade, move simultaneously through the hours of a day, the seasons of a year, and the seasons of a life, capturing moments and reflections each of which is ‘sufficient . . . for a rising up of wonder.’
he poet displays a fine sensitivity to the world around her:
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iridescent blue
two dragonflies
catch and throw
waning sunlight
onto the path
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 . . . and also to her own interior landscape:
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lingering in bed
one moment longer
I trawl
the vast in-between
where creation might stir
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The first tanka above is an exquisite capture of something that most people would simply overlook; the second explores that fertile state between sleeping and waking where the riches of the subconscious mind may be most accessible. Elizabeth Bodien’s creations are shot through with ‘waning sunlight’, a poignant sense of the ephemeral:
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I buy cut tulips
arrange them in a vase
for their color
and because I trust
they will be here tomorrow
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The closing lines suggest that the narrator—like all of us—knows well that many beautiful or beloved things will not ‘be here tomorrow’. The clarity and simplicity of this tanka typify the way in which these poems illuminate everyday phenomena and help us to see how such ordinary things point beyond themselves to the unknown.
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barely touching
his scraped bloody knee
the boy ponders
for the first time
what is inside him
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From the child’s first intimations of vulnerability to the adult’s full knowledge of death, these poems simultaneously mourn losses and celebrate life:
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we are all old
now that you’ve gone
you danced
like a butterfly
on the lid of our lives
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What a beautiful five-line portrait of someone whose life seems to have been emblematic of freedom and joy. Loss of loved ones leads inevitably to reflection on what happens ‘beyond’:
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smoke rises
from the burning barrel
our trash
turns to ash, to air
what will we become?
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 . . . and it is no accident that the final section of this ‘book of hours’ is entitled ‘Beyond’, reaching outside the traditional cycle of the liturgical day and  hinting, like the following tanka, at a larger reality:
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frost flickers
on the dark window
a thin veil
separates this earth
from beyond
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Elizabeth Bodien, who holds degrees in cultural anthropology, consciousness studies, religions, and poetry, recently published a nonfiction book about her past-life regressions. She has also published five books of ‘mainstream’ poetry and has won numerous poetry awards, including several for haiku. Readers of her Oblique Music will hope that this accomplished poet, with her wealth of experience, insight, and wonder, will continue to travel the tanka road.
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we peer
from the bus
across the river
our final destination
the city veiled in mist
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Jenny Ward Angyal’s  poems have appeared in many journals and may also be found on her blog, The Grass Minstrel. . Her tanka collection, moonlight on water (Skylark Publishing), appeared in 2016. She co-edited the Tanka Society of America’s 2016 Members’ Anthology, Ripples in the Sand, and was Reviews & Features Editor of Skylark: a Tanka Journal, for over five years.
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