Eleven Sundry Flowers
Frank Mundo (author) Keith Draws (Illustrator)
Antrim House (2021)
Reviewed by Amy Lignor for Reader Views (12/27)
I’m going to begin this review by offering up a keyword that, to me, describes this collection of poems to a tee: “Beauty.” I know, this sounds like too simple of a word, or too generic to make it stand out from others. However, it’s actually spot on; and it’s the beauty of what this writer (and illustrator, who did a fantastic job, but we’ll address that later) presented that makes it stand above many I’ve read. The set-up is eleven poems, one written a day, that focus on an extremely happy time in the poet’s world that occurred during a very complex time period across the globe.
To be more specific, he writes during a time I, too, remember like it was yesterday. (I don’t think anyone forgot it, actually.) Mr. Mundo was a happy man who’d fallen in love with Nancy, the woman who would become his wife; and, at the age of thirty, he’d secured a job with an employer that offered two weeks paid vacation time. For a person who’d worked steadily for 15 years, you can certainly see why he was absolutely thrilled to be getting time off. Now, during this time – when he would pen these beautiful poems – the U.S. military, combining with those from the U.K., as well as others, invaded the country of Iraq. This campaign (“Shock and Awe”) began the war in the Middle East, coming two years after the hideous 9/11 attacks. Global watchers would sit in front of their TV’s as this played out. But for Mr. Mundo, he would wrestle with creating these 11 poems…a trial that would be quite difficult for any author, I’m sure.
I will not ruin anything by giving away these stunning works. But from poems about true love, like a “Pocket Full of Posies;”to works that made you feel enlightened and encouraged by life in general during a time period where it was difficult to feel that in, “Flower Powered,” Mr. Mundo hit upon a spectrum of words and phrases that you’ll find sticking in your memory and making you feel strength, warmth, and yes, beauty. Mundo backs up his statement that “love could muster my own voice” with the sonnets he created. Frankly, I think we should all thank his employer, because the craft and skill he used over his 11 days of vacation time produced something all readers can now enjoy.
But the words are not the only thing you will find yourself surprised, awed, or meditating over. Along with the stellar words, an illustrator by the name of Keith Draws (fitting, right?), created artwork that is simply stunning to coincide with the poetry. You can view one of the glorious drawings on the back cover of the book that will blow you away. These pictures, by the way, are not even in full color inside the book, but they don’t need to be; the beauty of them is illuminated by the illustrator and he should be commended for that as much as the poet for his collection of words.
With this striking combination, and the drawings adding to the experience ten-fold, I have to say that all readers out there who wish to follow this author’s “courtship” of his wife and delve into all this beauty, should get this one for their shelves as soon as possible!