Book Review: Disinheritance

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Disinheritance: poems by John Sibley Williams

Synopsis: A lyrical, philosophical, and tender exploration of the various voices of grief, including those of the broken, the healing, the son-become-father, and the dead, Disinheritance acknowledges loss while celebrating the uncertainty of a world in constant revision. From the concrete consequences of each human gesture to soulful interrogations into "this amalgam of real / and fabled light," these poems inhabit an unsteady betweenness, where ghosts can be more real than the flesh and blood of one's own hands.

Review: This is an incredibly powerful and moving book of poems. I'll confess I'm definitely not a poetry expert. I've taken poetry classes and love reading it, but I don't always understand every poem and I don't always know how to identify what is good poetry and what is not. The only thing I can judge poetry by now is how it makes me feel as a reader, how the words affect me and stick with me. 

This is why I know that these are excellent poems. As is the case with most books of poetry, I loved some poems and cared less for others. This is a personal taste thing, and everyone who reads this book will certainly choose different favorites. However, the overall theme of this poetry--the experiences of loss, grief and sadness on the path of a normal life-- had a strong effect on me. The writing is beautiful and at times very haunting. There are several "personas" that are threaded throughout a variety of the poems, which adds a great element of continuity to the collection. All in all, this writing impressed me deeply and this little poetry book is very well worth the read. 

Some of my favorite poems: "Things Start at Their Names", "I Sit My Grandfather by the Mouth of the Columbia River", "Procession", "Echo Chamber" and "Preparations Have Been Made"


I want again for all impossible

unsullied things,
like a fistful of stars

a fistful
of meaningful stars,

an impossible destination
to warm their bodies.

A reliable compass
made of broken arms."

-from "Forbidden Travel"

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my completely honest review.

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