The Blue Whale Sings from Afar
by Josefina Bérard
Genre: Poetry / Nature
Print Length: 64 pages
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Reviewed by Toni Woodruff
Meditative poems gliding on a gentle breeze
Reading is meditation: an opportunity to sit quietly and take in what comes to you. Embracing nature is meditation too: an acceptance of being alive on your spot on earth. What will come flying through the air or bounding through the grass to join you will come.
This is the place where Josefina Bérard’s The Blue Whale Sings from Afar lives. A poetry collection as soft as a pastel sky, a murmuration of wings passing by. Spend time with Bérard’s poetry and you’ll be transported to a place where playful language drops, dangles, and drifts on the wind.
Structured in seasons, the collection is dedicated to showing us what nature can illustrate about the quietest and stormiest times. But it doesn’t dip too far into the harshness of the storm; it allows your reading time to float, providing an easy-reading and contemplative experience that would be a great choice to pick up before bed or first thing in the morning.
Poems drop down the page quickly, weaving alongside the grasses and birds and skies and back again with complexity and plenty of afterthought. A few favorites of mine are “Garden,” where there’s a sort of playfulness within the winds of nature, evoking the senses and the sweetness of fruit. “Ekdahl’s Home” uses the power of specifics to frame a family home with a palpable history. “A Story” and many others utilize creative line breaks to mimic the push and pull of nature:
“Breakfast in Bed” embodies the multitude of ways in which marmalade, backdropped against white snow in April, lifts the spirit of a present moment: reminds the speaker of something almost mystical, ghostly, a moment that has arrived out of gratefulness for the present and out of a past filled with loved ones like Mama and “of toasted bread.”
In addition to the thoughtful quiet poems, we’re also met with some cliche lines and poems that leave us with little to work with. Some works like “Letter to a Tart” don’t offer much of anything to ponder, and the final section (“Winter”) pulls up short without fresh concepts and can veer toward the overly simple.
In the end, The Blue Whale Sings from Afar is a good, calming time. Those who get swept up in the intricacies of nature and our part in it will find the book a nice tone-setter for a day to give gratefully to our earth.
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