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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mother's Day Poetry Just Add a Rose

"She Wore Emerald Then"
Reflections on Mothers and Motherhood
by Magdelena Ball and
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Photography by May Lattanzio
ISBN 9781438263793
Copyright 2008
Available as an e-book. .

Learn more on the author's Web site.
Award of Excelence from Military Writers Society of America

Review by LB Sedlacek
This poetry book is split into two
sections: "The Genetic Code" (Ball)
and "Dandelions in Autumn" (Howard-
Johnson) with each section title
page perfectly accompanied by one
of Lattanzio's pictures.

In "Coil of Life," Ball punctuates
her "The Genetic Code" section with
a jolting look at creation. "Take a
single cell/tinier than the tip of a
pencil/in its nucleus the DNA blueprint/
six billion pairs of nucleotides." The
poem continues further on with "Binary
fission/mitosis and cytokinesis/the
cervix thins and dilates/the dreaming
and waking cerebral cortex/already
perfect signals uterine contractions/
the Big Bang." Each poem weaves vivid
layers (somewhat of a verbal voltage)
of life and existence. From "The
Fading": "eyelids closed tightly
against life/you create your own
shadow/the steel bars/of your deviant
past/shatter the illusion of freedom."
Ball writes with a punch -- you won't
fast forget her words.

The "Dandelions in Autumn" section
(Howard-Johnson) is more focused
on the later years of motherhood
and/or mothers themselves. In
"Mother and Daughter, The Thing I
Learned from Depends and Other Events,"
Howard-Johnson's poem deals with a
daughter taking care of an elderly
mother "... she cannot find/her words,
or the beans/on her plate. Now merely
a leafhusk,/I cannot find the strength/
to place her head upon a pillow.//I
pre-order stew with chunks/chopped to
the size of peas." Each poem seems to
pull from days gone by capturing a
daughter's journey from child to
caretaker of one's mother. The
visuals - "offers us her favorite
dish, whipped/cream, crusted Heath
bars, melted/Marshmallows (without
the rum Mother/would have added)"
from "Across the Hall from Mother" -
are stunning and leverage accordingly
within each line.

Lattanzio's pictures add a blast of
scenic flavor to the book. They
are chosen and placed at just the
right spots.

"She Wore Emerald Then" is a
tribute to mothers everywhere.


L.B. Sedlacek's poems have most recently
appeared in "Ginosko," "Pure Francis," and
"Testing the Waters" poetry anthology.
L.B.'s latest chapbook is "I Am My
Neighborhood Watch."
Twitter: @lbsedlacek
This review first appeared in The Poetry Market Ezine: Each monthly issue features poetry markets and poetry contests plus news and a review of a poetry book or chapbook. Free to subscribe. To subscribe, send any email to
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