Reviewed by Susan E. Morris
A soulful and melodious journey
A book of poetry as timeless and timely as S.T. Brant’s debut, Melody in Exile, deserves your keen attention.
So let me begin by saying it took me longer than usual to find my footing in this collection. While reading these poems, you may want to look things up—finding allusions to historical figures and created words. At other times, you will notice classic literature come alive and become relevant in a new way.
Brant poses alternative perspectives, raising questions about stories as well-known as that of Adam and Eve. Beneath the skillful language, sumptuous literary tradition, and formal excellence, is inspired emotional candor. The collection contains poems focused on enduring themes—soul, meaning, and hope.
Melody in Exile is divided into three numbered sections, titled, respectively, I (which resounds with faith: not all is lost), II (singing that Eden is a state that our souls remember and can attain, which I have read as meaning), and III (which affirms that if we listen and act appropriately, we can bring our melodies to harmony). Finally, the parts combine into a whole, taking readers on a spiritual crusade, starting with Part I, containing “A Prayer.”
From the poem:
All my words pour on you, my heart in them,
In thoughts, nothing left in me
But me. Empty me of all extraneous, empty
Me of me, Resurrection,
Resurgence O Graft, Transplant, Flowerpot.
The middle section of the collection includes “The Siesta of Restraint, The 3rd Ecstasy,” a noteworthy love poem true to the collection’s melodic path. Also, these lines of “De-Eden’ D IV A Song” paint a vivid portrait of Eden. Think classic story and fresh perspective:
Eden is composed of Love, We are notes of Music!
Eros wanders winter night, warms herself at firesides, sings her
heartache into light.
In the final section, Brant includes arguably some of the best poems in the collection: the title poem “Melody in Exile,” as well as “Picking Flowers of the Self from the Selfless World,” and “Experience,” describe life’s darkness finally and beautifully. Combined with the pursuit of optimism and belief, the poems leave me with a sense of having gone on a journey of truth.
I was invested in the soulful experience by the end of this collection. Brant reaches beyond the surface study of personal to bring readers on an adventure of touching on God and soul, leaving readers with a lasting feeling that we are always singing in a divine fire.
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