Afternoon me hearties! Today I bring to you something a little bit different – poetry! No, not my own or Mad Matha’s spectacular efforts of poetic brilliance, but those of Christy Birmingham in her compact yet emotional, autobiographical tome Pathways to Illumination. Initially, Mad Martha and I discussed doing a haiku review given the poetical content of the book, but quite frankly, Ms Birmingham’s work is of a far greater quality than our own, so we decided to defer to a higher talent when we see it and go with the Read-it-if instead.
Pathways to Illumination is a collection of poems relating Birmingham’s journey through a toxic relationship and out the other side. The poems explore the various stages of moving through a relationship breakdown, and address domestic violence, control in relationships, emotional turmoil, depression and self-harm before moving on to the more hopeful outcomes including finding support and beginning again with a more healthy and positive outlook. The poems are structured to be read sequentially, so that the book almost takes on the design of a verse novel, allowing the reader to experience the author’s journey and engage with her process of healing.
Read it if:
* you like a bit of poetry but don’t like random collections of poems on disjointed topics
* you’ve ever hitched your star to a wagon that looked fancy at the time…but who’s hard wooden seats gave you splinters, who’s hard wooden wheels ran over your toes, and who ultimately hooked up with another, more tawdry looking wagon despite promises to the contrary
* you have unabashedly adopted Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” as your personal theme song
* you can’t go past an author who, in her own words, “inhales personal growth and exhales a passion for every new day”
While we shelf denizens do our fair share of composing (slightly dodgy) poetry, admittedly, we don’t read a lot of it. Mainly because poetry, like a classic novel, can be a bit daunting and intimidating. Or overly pretentious. Thankfully, those labels do not apply to the poems in this book. Rather, if you pick up Pathways to Illumination you will find poems that contain striking imagery, relatable content and honest emotion in a very readable format. Best of all, one will be left with a sense of hope and optimism to speed one on one’s way.
And just for kicks, here’s Ms Gaynor herself.
Until next time,
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