Sunday, February 5, 2017

Garden of Verse: New Poems from Plymouth Author: Driving With the Right Side of the Brain

            Dolores Stewart Riccio, Plymouth-based poet and author of a series of clever mysteries by a circle of psychic friends, has published a new collection of her poems titled "Driving with the Right Side of the Brain."
            The book begins with the classic lament of the mature poet: "not enough time."
            Citing a quotation from Ralph Waldo Emerson on the task of the creative imagination ("My books should smell of the pines and resound with the hum of the insects"), Riccio's poem is titled "What Shall We Do About This Abundance?" It begins:
            There simply isn't enough time
                  to get around to all the inviting
                  beach roses, simmering with silk and scent.

            Speaking as someone who has long appreciated the company of beach roses, I say what a marvelous image: "simmering with silk and scent."
            All those soft 's' sounds really do simmer. Silk strikes me as exactly right for the consistency of that special breed of rose, and 'scent' is the first sign of their presence when you near a New England shoreline.
            This poem concludes with an observation, "Before we are ready, the end of summer comes," both true and resonant. Because this is always the way of things, isn't it? Because, yes, summer comes to an end before we have figured out "what to do" with any of it. And by now we also realize that we are not merely speaking of summer.
            All of this imaginative, philosophical punch packed into the first page of a book of 104 pages of similarly reflective, delightful and affecting poetry.
            Riccio is a member of an ongoing poetry group sponsored by the Duxbury Library. The library's director, Carol Jankowski, sums up "Driving with the Right Side of the Brain" this way:

            In her new anthology of poems, Dolores Stewart Riccio invites curiosity, memory, love, mystery, pageantry, and history to attend a celebration of soul! Each poem speaks directly to the reader; each lovely image appears in the mind’s eye and heart as brilliantly as a celestial panorama. The anthology is divided into eight sections, with topics ranging from Reincarnation to Shapeshifter and Acts of Faith. In the poem “Driving with the Right Side of the Brain,” the poet exclaims, “some daredevil soul records with a flourish of a pen adventures I never remember.” Trust me, daredevil souls: readers will lovingly remember the adventures that come alive in this poetry!
            Ellen Jane Powers, author of a poetry collection titled "Celestial Navigations," writes of Riccio's book: "At times we feel we're overhearing a private rumination, then we come across an 'old spell' or charm to carry us onward. Her language is at once philosophical and witty, giving power to the underdog and dame alike."
            Having received a review copy of her new book , I wrote a brief review as well:
            Dolores Stewart Riccio's sure-handed lyrics, ranging from delicate to pointed, show us Shakespeare at the senior center, Greek mythology in the publisher's office, a Lakota legend on the power of youthful desire, quiet testimonies to the mystery of an undying love. She sees the legendary in the everyday as well, a grieving old man merging into his garden, mountains whirling just out of sight, rivers of sky only a bird can navigate. Her volume of new and selected poems is a book of marvels, some of them the everyday kind like listening to opera while driving to the post office, a cache of unexpected words for death ("the professor of fates and balances"), some of them acts of faith such as "Negative Birthday Candles." These poems provide a fitting response to the epistemological teaser "Do you believe you are breathing?" Dolores Stewart Riccio's answer: "I  do not believe, I know."

            You can find more information about the author's series of novels, known as the The Divine Circle of Ladies mysteries, at her website:
            These clever and entertaining ladies are a little more inclined to magic and witchcraft than to the writing of verse. But magic is a kind of poetry as well.