“Ash” by Gloria Mindock


Gloria Mindock
Glass Lyre Press (2021)
ISBN: 978-1-941783-75-7
Reviewed by Amy Lignor for Reader Views (12/2021)

“Haunting.” I’ve been sitting here for hours, hemming and hawing over the perfect word to describe this collection. In my own personal history, when it came to poems, I found very few books that stood out. Yes, there are many about romance, with the whole ‘Romeo and Juliet’ kind of endings. There are those that focus on brutality and pain, which can (no offense) turn off readers after a while. And there are those that try comedy, like going back to the time of limericks to get their point across. Some make you laugh out loud; others make you roll your eyes. It all depends on the delivery… or, of course, how exhausted you are when you dive into one of them.

I even mulled over the fact that I disliked the genre because I didn’t feel, as a writer, that in a few stanzas someone could explain the power of pain, love, disloyalty, friendship, etc. Maybe I believed that was cheating, because so many authors write tomes in order to describe the power of just one of these emotions, let alone a book full of them. I concluded that poetry was just not my type of thing… until 2021 came along and I was presented with about five in a row – this one now included—that worked like a loving grandmother. They knocked me upside the head (in a nice way) and said, “Hey! Listen to me! I’ve got something to say!” And, as this year comes to a close, I’m extremely happy that happened.

When I opened the cover to “Ash,” I wasn’t really expecting poet Gloria Mindock to deliver such personal, hardcore poems that felt more like stories. But just reading the Table of Contents, and seeing the sections were titled: “Burnt”, “Baked”, “Buried” and “Opposition,” gave me a clue that this was not going to be an ordinary compilation of romance or a bunch of limericks written in the back booth of a pub somewhere. Gloria Mindock has put together tales of a variety of characters who live, work, and deal with personal issues each and every day. Using a tone of compassion and empathy for the people and issues she writes about, Mindock seems, at times, like a counselor or a psychiatrist who uses her words to get these characters (and readers) through their problems and around the blockades set in their specific paths in order to find something more.

There are so many to call out, but I have to say “The Axe” is one poem that made me think on many levels. Why? Because this is a poet who adds invisible lines and ideas in her work that enter your mind as you read her words. I present a short snippet of this:|

“The population is going down. Too many fires not put out. Too many songs not completed. Existence turned downward…”

A fireman’s axe does hit and shatter glass in order to stop this smoke, fire, and eventual ash, but this is a condition, Mindock states, where “water is incapable of saving.” The never-ending fires. The pandemic. The school shootings – all of these issues in 2021 made this poem even stronger and more realistic in my eyes.

Mindock has a powerful voice that offers memorable experiences. With few words, stark language, and intelligent syntax, she brings to life—in vivid color—“real life.” This assembly will, for me and, I predict, for anyone who reads it, remain in their consciousness for a long time to come. It will “haunt” you… because that’s exactly what honesty and power does.

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