Review in Scintilla

My thanks to Scintilla.Info for a wonderful review of my poetry collection. Here it is:

Book Review: I lost summer somewhere, Sarah Russell

I lost summer somewhere, Sarah Russell

Poetry: I lost summer somewhere, Sarah Russell

Local (State College, PA) poet Sarah Russell has given us a collection of poems that are heartfelt and moving. I lost summer somewhere is poignant, elegant, and sometimes emotionally raw. Reading it drew me into a world of love and loss, of new love found, of letting go of an aging parent piece by piece, of being with someone at their most vulnerable point, of watching granddaughters grow into a world we could never have imagined. At times it was a nerve-wracking white-knuckled journey through life. But it is hard to find someone relate that journey with the grace, beauty, and dignity that Russell achieves.

Anyone who has ever been in love can both relate to and laugh with her poem, “If I Had Three Lives.” She starts,

“If I had three lives, I’d marry you in two.”

This humorous look at love then goes on to imagine her life where she did not marry him: writing, reading lots of books, vacationing in Maine, practicing yoga…and then admitting,

“And I’d wonder sometimes / if I’d ever find you.”

This quirky love poem acknowledges that marriage has changed her in ways that might not always meet her ideal (“I’d be thinner in that life, vegan”), but in two of three lives she would choose him and in the third life she’d long for him. Honestly, that’s more than a lot of us get!

The titular poem is a metaphor for aging. The poet realizes that she has entered a stage of life when geese have abandoned their nests and wildflowers have finished their blooms. I love how she says to the geese as they leave,

“I’ll stay here, I tell them, I’ll air out / cedared cardigans. chop carrots / for the soup tonight, cross / the threshold of the equinox, / try not to stumble.”

Any of us watching the years spin by faster and faster can appreciate both the sense of loss and the acceptance of our future, whatever that may be.

Although the poems offer much to every reader, I believe that women would especially appreciate Russell’s perspectives. She writes as the wife who watches a marriage crumble, as the mother there with a daughter making a difficult choice and living with that, as the grandmother advising her middle-school granddaughter. Sometimes, like in Learning to Play Baseball, she is the bemused woman struggling to communicate with a man. She is the woman watching herself age, falling in love again, appreciating new seasons of life.

That being said, this book is not “for” women or men. It is for anyone who loves language, who loves poetry, for anyone who has loved and anyone who is watching an aging parent decline, for anyone who has enjoyed an “Indian Summer” of life and found a second love and held a child. Sarah Russell’s poems are beautiful and passionate, and I lost summer somewhere is a special collection.

My First Collection is published!

I’m thrilled to announce that my first collection I lost summer somewhere has just been published and is available at Amazon and through Kelsay Books.

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Here are some of the great things my fellow poets have said about it.

“Melancholy, exuberance, nostalgia, fulfillment, contentment, longing – Sarah Russell hits all the spots, and there isn’t one poem where a woman won’t be able to identify in some way. She’s singing all our songs, putting into magical words things we felt so often but never knew how to tell. Deep sadness matched by laughter, gentleness, love and a sense of adventure. It was a privilege being there with her, living what she remembers, identifying with every line.”

Rose Mary Boehm, author of Tangents, From the Ruhr to Somewhere Near Dresden, and Peru Blues

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“Sarah Russell brings us into her world, a world of “dream-filled summer nights,” where “leaves are October butterflies.” Russell’s poems sing the important moments of life. It’s a song that stays in your mind, drawing you back to the poems again and again.”

Nina Bennett, author of Mix Tape and The House of Yearning

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“Sarah Russell’s poems don’t have to crawl under your skin – they’ve always been there. If you haven’t known a suicide, or gone through divorce or cancer, you’ve known the fear. If you’ve never had a love you’d marry twice if you had three lives, you’ve felt the longing. Russell may have lost summer somewhere, but she has found what makes us human.”

Alarie Tennille, author of Waking on the Moon and Running Counterclockwise