I've read Sweet Oblivion multiple times over the last year, which I think speaks more about its quality than a review probably could. But I'm going to write something anyway, because Sweet Oblivion really deserves a few words.
In S.O., we bounce between depictions of personal sorrow, stubborn love in the face of dark tides, and musings on the fleeting nature of time, to questions of religious scapegoating, and our blindness to issues of homelessness, social divides, and global disasters. It is a broad collection. To help focus our attention, though, it has been divided into five sections: Life, Mind, Love, Heartache and Death, each with a famous, introductory quote at the start, which I think is a really cute addition. I especially like the Life and Death sections of poetry, and many of my favourite poems are in those bits. However, all of the sections are evocative, playful and thoughtful, and one of my absolute favourite (quite succinct!) pieces comes in the Love section:
I fear the darkness of the impending tide
But you, stubborn as always,
Hold me close and anchor me to your side
In one other favourite, we experience the joy of cherry blossom season in Japan:
Cherry blossom petals drifted in the air
Pink and white raindrops in our hair
We sat beneath a tree drinking beer
Grinning and carefree, hearts filled with cheer
And in another, we feel the heat and weight and sticky mess of summer in the city. This is my favourite part of that piece:
...A lone young woman sits on a lone patch of grass
Beneath an equally lone tree in this concrete jungle
She sighs into the mint choc chip kiss of an ice cream
Stray strands of hair caught in the stickiness of her sunscreen...
And I won't quote My Final Sunset here, because I think it sits well at the back end of the collection, and I think that is where it should be read. But safe to say it is hugely affecting. Inspiring, full of acceptance and colour, but heart wrenching, also, and hard to let go of.
This is a great first collection from an author who is clearly well practiced, and who is also unafraid to experiment with different styles, both classic and contemporary. I'm excited to see the new directions that Loren will take her work in, from now, over the rest of her poetry career.
Hey Jasmin Loren -
if that is your real name -
keep on truckin', bae
(review of free book)