Welcome from Amy D. Unsworth

Language, Literature, Learning & Life.

Review : The Silence of Men

You can find my review of The Silence of Men at The Pedestal Magazine.

It is an interesting book and does not lead where I thought it might. I made sure that I did not add a "spoiler" to my review, especially since in many ways the poems do appear to create a loose narrative.

I'm learning through reviewing how books of poetry can work. In my studies, I've very rarely looked critically at entire books of poems. But I think as a writer it is essential to do so. Where else are you going to get information about how to order books? I've not had a single person offer advice towards this goal, but I've never really asked either.

I need more books to review; does anyone have any to suggest?

Searching for Chemo poems

I notice that a lot of visitors are stopping by in search for "Chemo poems." I've written a poem or two that discusses my treatment for cancer, but I haven't published them yet. If you would like to read them, I'd be willing to send them to you via email. Just ask.

If you are interested in reading poems that talk about the experience of cancer I can only suggest Donald Hall's "Without." The poems are about his wife (and poet) Jane Kenyon's struggle with Leukemia. "Her Long Illness" discusses her chemo treatment:

Her Long Illness by Donald Hall

Daybreak until nightfall,
he sat by his wife at the hospital
while chemotherapy dripped
through the catheter into her heart.
He drank coffee and read
the Globe. He paced; he worked
on poems; he rubbed her back
and read aloud. Overcome with dread,
they wept and affirmed
their love for each other, witlessly,
over and over again.
When it snowed one morning Jane gazed
at the darkness blurred
with flakes. They pushed the IV pump
which she called Igor
slowly past the nurses' pods, as far
as the outside door
so that she could smell the snowy air.

Kenyon's own poem "The Sick Wife," included in her Collected, also deals with her illness.

You might also try Ted Kooser's poem "At the Cancer Clinic"

(an excerpt)

. . .The sick woman
peers from under her funny knit cap
to watch each foot swing scuffing forward
and take its turn under her weight.
There is no restlessness or impatience
or anger anywhere in sight. Grace
fills the clean mold of this moment
and all the shuffling magazines grow still.

I don't know though why you are searching for these poems. I don't know that they would be a comfort for you if you are dealing with cancer or are a caretaker of a person who is struggling with cancer. Perhaps they might help you feel less alone as you go through what I can only describe as a surreal experience, and a lonely one. I felt and still feel at a loss when people ask how I am, or how I feel because I'm never sure how "real" they'd like the answers to be. Mostly everyone just pretends that it didn't happen. And I pray that it won't happen again.

The courses of chemo that I had during treatment took me to the edge of what I could endure. The last of the rounds, the last hours in the hospital were trying not because of just physical conditions, (the nausea, the overwhelming odor of the hospital which aggravated my nausea, the inability to eat even the most basic of food) but also because of the emotional and mental strain caused by the anxiety of being diagnosed with cancer, the needles and IVs which were a constant companion, and the complete invasion of privacy and lack of dignity that occurs when you are hospitalized. I have only been able to write a few poems because the emotion is still too raw, I still feel sick to my stomach if I think of being in that hospital room. I get anxious thinking about the next scan and the chance that it may belie my feeling of health and healing. I dread having to go back through those doors to have my blood drawn and the port that runs to my heart accessed.

I am lucky, though, I am still here to write this to you. May you be as blessed.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I took the family last night to see the Actors from the London Stage perform Hamlet. My nine year old son was impressed with the portrayal of Hamlet's madness and again with the way that Rosencrantz & Guildernstern were played by a single actor.

Yet on the way home he asked "Why didn't Hamlet just kill the bad king earlier and keep all that from happening?"

At moments like that, I think just maybe they might take after me after all.

New at Three Candles:

"Casting Out" and "The Whistler's Tarantula" by poet Carolyn Srygley-Moore are new additions to the poetry section. Stop by & read!

Start here: three candles

Things I've written

other than poetry. I was recently revisiting a series of articles I wrote for the "beginning poet" at Poems Niedergasse. I think as time permits I'll add a list of my reviews and other articles to the side bar. But tonight, I have other work to complete. So, if you'd like to see these this link will take you to the list of titles:
"From the Pencil Box"

I have a few reviews at three candles as well, I'll link them later.


I'm also excited about being the Prose Editor at three candles. After many years of focus on poetry, it has been interesting to focus on what makes a story or piece of prose compelling. I might have a new selection for you soon.

I'm branching out.


I also believe that to continue to write that one must continue to read and participate in the critical conversation. To that end, I'll be at Dekalb U. this weekend for the ACIS.

Is it snowing there yet?


I'm reading Richard Jeffery Newman's book. More on this soon.


It is suddenly fall. The leaves forget the branches. The branches illustrate the sky, structure revealed after the abandon of green.

Random Acts of Poetry

Coincidently, my husband and I were discussing performing "random acts of poetry" just this morning. Knowing of course that such a good idea had to be already in action somewhere, I looked about on the web and found that the Canadians have such as program and strangely enough this is the week that they celebrate it. (Odd eh?)

See here: http://national-random-acts-of-poetry.blogspot.com/

So, I propose that you too commit random acts of poetry. This can be as simple as reading a poem to a friend, or leaving a copy in a public place or even (if you're brave) reading aloud to a gathering of people (whether they want you to or not!)

I'm thinking about business cards with poems printed on them. A sonnet should fit just fine or another small poem. Or print off a few copies of a poem and mail them to a random sample of people in your town.

We could lead the charge to put poems straight in the hands (and ears!) of potential readers.

So, even if I didn't think of it first, I can still champion for the cause.

Happy Friday!

Heart's Needle

I'm returning to "Heart's Needle" today. Somehow with all the madness in the world over the last few days, this poem has been on my mind. It is that last line: "We try to choose our life." We try, yet the world intrudes. Sickness and death intrude. Hunger, strife, and agony intrude.

They cannot imagine even failing to reaching the benchmarks they've set. Some feel they will go mad, some feel that shame would overcome them. I want to tell them that they can carry on despite the intrusions. A passion is beautiful but life exists beyond. Even after the intrusions, one must kindle hope. Small, secret perhaps, but hope even as we grieve what has past and what we must yet endure.