No Unpaid Passengers
Pam R. Johnson Davis
Independently Published (2022)
Reviewed by Lily Andrews for Reader Views (01/2023)
Saturated with emotional rawness and heartfelt prose, “No Unpaid Passengers” is a poetry text written by award-winning poet, Pam R. Johnson Davis. With a richness of raw energy and metaphors that help articulate what often is hard to put into words, this collection spins across subjects such as the joy of new beginnings, hope, loneliness, longing, nostalgia, love, racism, death, and friendship, Davis’ voice ensures an unparalleled lyricism that is bound to reach into the inner depths of any reader’s soul.
While some entries are short, such as The First Time I Heard Silence and others long, such as How to Build a House Long and The Week’s End, each word serves its purpose along with its titles, which helps in cognizance. Across, most poems have the traditional style of writing, applying line breaks, alliteration, free verse, rhyme, and poetic meters as few others are written in modern or conventional ways by using virgules to indicate line breaks creating visual energy such as What I Left Behind. Together, they move with gentle and often unexpected shifts, like a raised hand signaling a detour in an observation about the weather.
Davis’s abrading examination of nature and intertwining this with the theme she chooses to discuss in each jewel box is gestural and declarative and readers will find themselves often delighting in their insight and accuracy. For example, rousing words such as “Then, as seeds fall from that tree back to the earth, perhaps we can be the sowers, ready with our tools and gardening gloves, carrying our hopes and our beliefs, being sure we know what it is to be both the earthworm and the seed, the root, and the water, For when the seed is planted we do not mourn, we rejoice for the hope that will grow and become new again” confound the heart as they beg to be read out loud. The author’s use of rhetorical questions too in various entries invites contemplation and gets readers thinking about the subject matter in each entry.
Written with a steady sizzle of genuineness, “No Unpaid Passengers” is all heart from beginning to end. Poetry is always about what’s being said and not said, but rarely are the two so neatly interlaced. Davis’s affecting five-star work certainly fits the bill for poetry lovers.