Romp and Ceremony
by Jeannie E. Roberts
73 pages ~ 51 poems
Publisher: Finishing Line Press (February 24, 2017)
Reviewed by: Karen Schwartz
Every reader has a preference, an opinion, and a view point that makes them a critic in their own right and yet it impresses me the way in which good poets draw audiences in by virtue of their truth presented in its purest form. Romp and Ceremony doesn’t disappoint. It’s from Jeannie Robert’s perspective that the reader is invited to ponder, discover, and relate to her poetry through its relevance written with a healthy twist of witticism that keeps readers on their toes.
Her humour shines bright in “The American Waistland” and in “Geographic Tongue” where Ms. Robert’s reveals,
“Her gravitational pull toward hot sauce has aggravated her condition to the point of volcanic eruption, where she burns—tongue-tied, twisted, and lesion-lashed by her own tongue in cheek!”
While Ms. Robert’s themed sections takes the reader through a crescendo of darkness to light, unlike much poetry, the collection retains an upbeat spirit refraining from drawing depressive reaction but rather leads with a feel-good after taste coming about from truly well written art. Make no mistake. This poet has social conscience which she uses to ask her readers to find their own answers and to self-reflect. While many would do so when reading her poem, “Compassion,” it’s through “The Clairsentient espies envy, wrath, and pride” that I found myself drawn. Ms. Roberts writes,
“It’s been said, we’re all mirrors; though hers had shattered long ago leaving shards of knowing, glimpses of history and clear feelings.”
When we look inside our own mirrors, what would we find? Captivating, emotive, and calling for reflection, Ms. Roberts is not afraid to invite her readers to laugh or to cry but before you decide, she’s not done. Throughout her collection, she adds a healthy dose of playful fun that will leave readers smiling at her cleverness. Consider “Alien Birth,” “Ten,” or “New Year’s Resolution” where Ms. Roberts frets over an aging physique before finding the answer to a youthful appearance through her dog.
“Brummell’s fur coat was ageless – no crow’s feet, lines or wrinkles. Gwen looked deeply into his eyes. Why hadn’t she thought of that? Gwen giggled at the concept...She would find a way! Gwen’s New Year’s resolution: Grow a face-to-foot fur coat!”
All joking aside, Ms. Roberts has a gift for describing the celebration of flora as daffodils dance in “Daffadown Dilly” and for fauna as in “Gray Wolf” where she describes heartache sorely felt through the cruelty of man.
“Droplets stained December’s snow. White-tailed deer drew him to the clearing; its scent had settled near barren maize. Limping back to the forest, he recalled his mate—shot on a harvest moon.”
Contained within her works, Ms. Roberts merges the written word with visual art finding her muse through paintings and snapshots. One such poem, inspired by a photograph, is “Reflecting upon Upper Eau Claire Lake” highlighted through descriptive splendor and appeal.
“Near vision’s periphery, where mirrors weave cohesiveness, crisscross atop the cusp of afternoon, slide over the slates, sands, and russets of rocks, reality shifts on a canvas of silt and echoes speak to the girl dipped in liquid light.”
From poems celebrating the seasons, food and nature, fond memories, and the human experience, this collection is both artistically satisfying and enjoyable. Like Ms. Roberts writes in “Oyster,”
“You could hold the oldest pearl the youngest seed as you filter then feed on plankton but you’ve been caught.”
Romp and Ceremony catches its audience well. It is a must read and an asset to anyone looking to grow their poetry collection.