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Poetry Book Review:

Poetry Eyes

by Amal Saleh

poetry eyes bookI shouldn't like Poetry Eyes by Amal Saleh. But I do. And the reason is as simple as the poetry itself.

In her debut book of poems, self published through Author House, Amal Saleh explores poetry from a variety of poetic styles through four lenses, which she calls "fields." These fields, or lenses as I prefer (and you'll see why in a moment), serve as chapters into which Saleh has divided her poems.

The first chapter of Poetry Eyes explores the lens of poetry and art. Its title - "Brilliant Beauty" - reflects Saleh's own vision of poetics. From the simple lines of the title poem, the first poem in the book, she captures the simplicity of language and rhythm. Here's a taste:
Art of poetry Soft clay In need of forming Initially Art of poetry Hard stone In need of carving Consequently
Each stanza of this five-verse poem follows the same pattern, which shows Saleh's own simple brilliance. Unlike many beginning poets, she maintains a consistency within most of her poems that makes her work admirable and lovable.

"The Real Challenge" deals with matters of the heart, a subject Amal Saleh seems quite comfortable with. Her strength is that she can evoke emotion without relying on overt sentimentality. She lets the words and language do her work for her.

Saleh seems to prefer rhyming poems, but she does stray and that's a treat. Her rhymes, and her music for that matter, are not always pristine, but her efforts are appreciated.

In her third lens, "They Say I Say", she offers up a collection of Gibran-like wisdom verses. In her hands, the poems speak - again, simply and musically.

In addition to rhyme, Amal Saleh seems to like playing with repetition and when she does it she does it well. Many amateur poets repeat themselves unnecessarily, but Saleh's poems have intention and that's a rare treat for debut self-publishing efforts. The following poem stands out as one of the best in the collection and shows how Saleh is able to incorporate simple language into verses that speak through irony and casual elegance:

Between Love And Fear

I love the sun, but I fear its warmth. I love the moon, but I fear its coldness. I love the night, but I fear its mysteries. I love the stars, but I fear their charm. I love the rivers, but I fear their rage. I love the oceans, but I fear its (sic) depth. I love the mountains, but I fear their heights. I love the wind, but fear its softness. I love lions, but I fear their calmness. I love camels, but I fear their patience. I love horses, but I fear their wilderness. I love eagles, but I fear their sharpness. I love children, but I fear their cuteness. I love men, but I fear their ignorance. I love women, but I fear their beauty. I love God, but I fear His anger. Between love and fear I swing. Fearing what I Love And Loving what I Fear.
Amal Saleh is able to take a common theme and make it uncommon by surprising us with her language and unexpected observations. This poem, in a lesser poet, would have been trite and awkward, but in Saleh's hands it is pure and sings. The incongruity between the plural "oceans" and the singular "its" in the second stanza is a mere blip of an error that is easy to forgive due to the strengths of this poem. It can easily be chalked up to an editorial error, simple to execute when an author choose to self publish. That's no excuse, but it's forgivable.

Finally, Amal Saleh in Poetry Eyes gives her readers a view into metaphor with her final lens, "Sugar Pepper And Salt". The shortest of her lenses, "Sugar Pepper And Salt" still holds a few powerful images such as those in "For Bitter For Worse".

While Poetry Eyes is not a perfect book of poems, for a first book it is magnificent. Readers will get a view into different corners of existence like peering at stars through a telescope, discovering themselves as they discover each other. The title doesn't really do justice to its contents and the cover art is only slightly better, but you'll like the poems.

This book should appeal to anyone who likes simplicity and traditional elements within poetry, but who are turned off by the stodginess of academic verse. Amal Saleh's Poetry Eyes is a good book to add to your poetry collection.

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Poetry Eyes by Amal Saleh


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