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(Review appearing for the first time on Rainhandbooks.com!)Scribbles of the Mind is not a linear narrative - it is, rather, a book of poetry, and given that it is my first opportunity to review a collection of verse since RainHand began, I was eager to get into it.
Each poem is presented with complimentary illustration in the form of simple, minimalist line drawings that mingle with or accentuate the text, helping to bring each short verse together. Also present (on their own pages, after the poem they relate to) are a number of color photographs; most of which provide a thoughtful visual aid for the reader to ruminate upon after experiencing the work in question. I found the simplistic format refreshing. A picture may indeed be worth a thousand words, but good words can stand on their own, and I feel that Scribbles of the Mind would have been done a disservice by adding too much distracting images. As it stands, I appreciate the emptiness – it’s just what my mind needs to clear up and think about what I’ve read.
Within these pages are a number of, to say the very least, heartfelt words, and I though I do not know the author personally, I feel that I have learned something intimate and touching about them through what they’ve allowed me to see. I felt generally uplifted by Elie Azar’s words on family, friends, love, and all the happiness and sorrows of life. Each of these poems is a small-relatable story, easily applied to daily living, and the entire book is, well…easy to just pick up and read, as opposed to a deeper narrative that requires a larger commitment. Need a daily affirmation? Pick this up off the shelf and peruse it with your morning beverage of choice!
It’s difficult to apply the technical criticisms of prose to a body of poetry, since, unless your plan is to stick to iambic petameter, there’s really no ‘wrong’ way to write a poem. Perhaps the author meant to convey a specific emotion. Perhaps to queue a certain school of thought. Perhaps neither. I can’t say for sure, and thus I can only gauge based on what I, in particular, got out of it. That said, I’ll point out that certain portions of Scribbles of the Mind were a tad confusing for me. Some of the images-for example, an image depicting a camera placed after a poem that had mostly to do with music-focused my thoughts on likely the wrong thing – I began to wonder what the significance of the camera is and how it relates to the piece (maybe I was supposed to think about that, but I doubt that was the intention). As I look back on it I consider that perhaps the camera had to do with ‘memories’, but that didn’t occur to me at the time, and as such the whole thing felt it a little jarring. Again, it was probably my own lack of understanding, so I can’t judge too harshly. Poetry is a lot like visual art in that way – we can compare a fresco of a beautiful sunset to other frescos of beautiful sunsets, and if the painter has declared a specific inspiration we can compare their work to that, but otherwise…who are we to judge, really?
The above said, I have pointed out in the past that the purpose of my reviews is not to simply bring glory (or infamy) to an author and their work. They’re intended to help readers find their next good read. And so, if you’re a fan of soft, simple, heartfelt verse, I think there’s something for you to enjoy here, and I suggest you give Scribbles of the Mind a try.