As for what I think of the book, most of its authors command the English language beautifully, as any great poet should. Many of the poems share the theme of desperation and loneliness, though not necessarily the solitude of being alone. The very first poem in Ambrosia, Eric Keizer’s “Travis and Trevor,” does talk about being alone, and while various other characters in the poems feel alone, they are not, truly.
If I may take this opportunity to talk about the talent of the first poet, the aforementioned Eric Keizer, I would like to say that Mr. Keizer’s voice is ageless. His bio did not reveal his actual age, so I had to use my imagination. I’m aware that he couldn’t be the speaker of each poem, but he captures the grieving husband, the alcoholic ex-con grandfather, the cutter, the homeless, and the survivors of gang violence just as easily. The copyright page of Ambrosia identifies it as a work of fiction, so even though the poems seem to be personal, and I’m sure at least a few of them are, the characters of the book feel very real, as do their struggles. Be that as it may, I couldn’t help but wonder if Eric Keizer had played any of these roles, if not all of them. That’s the sign of a great writer. I look forward to reading more of his work.
Depression’s insistent feelings of loneliness can overshadow the logic of presence, or even love. Loneliness can persist in a crowded room or even in a healthy relationship with an intimate lover. There is also a feeling of being dependent upon a significant other for support. Second poet A.L. Mabry’s poem “Sunrise” captures this, as do others, as many of her speakers make up a fraction of a loving home. My favorite of her poems, “Broken Angel,” resonates deeply with its final line:
“Sticks and stones may break her bones,
But words will break her spirit.”
That summons a sense of awe in me, because I can relate to that on a deep, personal level.
Alyssa Trevitt also covers loneliness and the struggles of an artist in her section, and even contributed a poem entitled “Perfecting Loneliness.” She has written a few poems here that I really enjoyed. “Open Mic” and a shorter poem called “Keyboard” were easy for me to relate to as a fellow writer.
Next is the work of Mello Sakia, a German-born poet whose position as an outsider in Texas allows him to further explore the themes of Ambrosia. His poem “Green beanie” is about feeling that one’s life is pointless and remembering simpler times. I think anyone who has ever felt depressed can relate to that. One standout stanza in his poem called “The pacifists loner” goes as follows:
“A masochist once told the world he was tired of being abused.
The irony behind that is how I feel when I am with you.”
Another contributing factor in suicidal behavior is loss, either by death or a relationship coming to an end in a painful way. Following the short selection of Mello Sakia’s poems are poems by Phillip Matthew Roberts. “Quoting the Mute…” has some wonderful imagery about loss, along with a morbid reference to “Lazarus, longing for home.” That poem is a selection from an unfinished work of fiction that I’d love to read upon its publication.
Mr. Roberts also captures the feelings of an outsider, with a work about a male born queer in, “How one bisexual distracted himself while growing up in Christendom.” Seeing such a wide array of perspectives, both real and imagined, may help readers who may not know much about the causes of depression. Several poems by Mr. Roberts touch on death, sex, being queer, and there’s even one on jury duty. These and other facts of life, from the monumental to the mundane, contribute to the wide scope of Ambrosia.
As a man disabled by exposure to Agent Orange, fellow Georgian Sam DeLoach brings an aura of hope in a hopeless situation. Some of his poems, though labeled fictitious, read almost like suicide notes, and whether or not the thought has crossed his mind, Mr. DeLoach nails the psyche of the suicidal, the very people who benefit from the profits of this anthology.
Though there are other poets in the book, I’ll leave them to speak for themselves for the sake of brevity and to allow readers to make their own discoveries. As I said in the beginning, giving to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention makes this a book worth buying and reading for oneself, and after having read it, I recommend it to readers who may just be curious about the effects of depression and suicidal tendencies, and also to those who know these feelings all too well. Confronting suicidal ideas with poems by nine talented writers lets sufferers know that they are not alone.
If you’re feeling suicidal, let that be a comforting thought: You are not alone. This book was put together with you in the thoughts and hearts of its authors, and the AFSP is always there to help you. Support their cause and these nine poets by buying Ambrosia, on sale as a pre-order on retail web stores such as Amazon.com, and available on September 16, 2017. For more information about the publisher, you can go to http://www.ourwriteside.com.
Finally, I want to thank fellow author Heidi Angell for signing me up for this blog tour and giving me the opportunity to read such a powerful book during what is a trying time in my own life. Thank you, Heidi. Also, thank you to Our Write Side and the nine contributing poets (Eric Keizer, A.L. Mabry, Alyssa Trevitt, Mello Sakia, Phillip Matthew Roberts, Sam DeLoach, Stacy Overby, Stephanie Ayers, and Veronica Falletta), and to you for reading this. Pre-order Ambrosia today!