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Friday, December 11, 2015

Eleanor Gamarsh: Poet Speaks for Everyman

Title: Imperfect Echoes
Subtitle: Writing Truth and Justice with Capital Letters, lie and oppression with Small
Author: Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Genre: Poetry
Pages: 148
Available as paperback and e-book on Amazon
Published by HowToDoItFrugally, LA

Reviewed by Eleanor F. J. Gamarsh

I read poetry occasionally. I have written a few poems spontaneously. As I have begun to write regularly, I thought I ought to learn more about that genre. I believed I could do that by reading current poets’ writing. I chose to read the collections recently published by Carolyn Howard-Johnson title Imperfect Echoes.

By the time I had read less than half the pages, I felt that Carolyn had spoken for Everyman. Sometimes subtle, sometimes brutal imagery and metaphor brought truth to light. Every word on page after page disrupted my thoughts and tugged at my heart. It appeared to me that she laid the thoughts of anyone and everyone who cares about our human condition on each page. Thoughts that either we don’t want to speak or can’t because they are unspeakable for most.

Her recollections may tear at your heart and mind until you come upon a poem about the improbabilities and uniqueness of America. When I read “The Story of My Missed Connection in Minneola,” I burst out laughing. This was pure comic relief amidst pathos.

I read one poem after another because I could not do otherwise. If nothing else, it was my curiosity about what would be next stirring my emotions but being enlightened, also. Up? Down? All around and back again? Then, turning the next page, my funny bone was tickled once more.

As for learning about writing poetry, Imperfect Echoes gave me more than I was looking for.

After a lifetime of creative work including designing and handcrafting greeting cards and needlework of all kinds, Eleanor Gamarsh recently took up writing in several genres, primarily memoir.

Accepted for inclusion in Poets & Writers prestigious list of published poets, multi award-winning novelist and poet Carolyn Howard-Johnson is widely published in journals and anthologies. She is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts. One of her poems won the Franklin Christoph poetry prize. She was an instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program for nearly a decade. She has written six poetry chapbook in the Celebration Series  with Magdalena Ball, several of them award-winners. Learn more about all her books at or


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Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Thank you for this lovely review, Eleanor. I'm glad you enjoyed my newest poetry book! (-:

Becky G said...

As a fan of non fiction, poetry fits that niche for me! I need a good poetry read, I should try the ones in your recent posts. I am reading a great story of a woman who grew up in Vietnam before and during the wars there. Linda Baer is her name, her book is Red Blood, Yellow Skin. Her story is a look from the other side into life there, not from a soldiers perspective, but from someone from there. Been my favorite read in the Non Fiction genre this whole year!