"The Unpredictability Of Light"

Written by Marguerite Guzmán Bouvard

Published by: Word Press 2009
ISBN-13:

Reviewed by: Beate Sigriddaughter

Genre: Poetry

The poems of The Unpredictability Of Light describe the world we live in with serene, but open-eyed tenderness. Our purpose, the poet declares, is to celebrate, cherish and praise the gift of life. Yet, paradoxically, if we do not also bear witness to the hideous aspects of our existence—war, greed, misguided politics, misguiding inflexible religious dogma, suffering, destruction—we betray the beauty of the life that sustains us.

One of my favorite poems in the collection, "In Praise of Flowers" contains this vulnerable balance:

        To awaken to the mysteries of the flowers
	each day is a way of remembering
	how the world devours its children
        

The central theme of the book is positive rather than dwelling in hopelessness (despite "bureaucracies that douse / themselves with incense" and scenes where "children / shoot their classmates in a schoolyard"). Writing of her own illness, the poet remembers her husband's words, which summarize the encouraging message of the book:

        				when I cried out
	I could go no farther.  "You must try",
	he murmured, "You must try
	because you are precious."
        

It is rare, and a delight, to find poetry that juxtaposes so perfectly the sorrow and the beauty and the love of the world, as in the final poem of the collection, "The Important Thing," which, according to the poet, is "to give with abandon:"

        		Like the woman in a Hungarian
	prison whose birthday gift 
	to her cell mate was a rose made 
	out of toilet paper, a flower that survived 
	her execution.
        

The book is a quiet, yet compelling call to take on the responsibility to be what we are meant to be.

Margaret Guzmán Bouvard received her Ph.D from Harvard University and was for many years a Professor of Political Science and Creative Writing at Regis College. She has taught poetry workshops at the Radcliffe Seminars and has been a writer in residence at the University of Maryland. She is currently a Resident Scholar with the Women's Studies Research Center at Brandeis University. She has authored books in the fields of politics, psychology, women's studies, poetry, and has edited two anthologies, all connected by a concern for human rights and the human condition.

Beate Sigriddaughter has published prose and poetry in many magazine and webzines. Her most recent book, a collection of stories and opinions of a philosophical white unicorn, The Unicorn And... was published in 2008. She is fiction editor at Moondance, and has established the Glass Woman Prize, now in its fifth award cycle, to honor passionate women's voices (details at www.sigriddaughter.com).

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