How can one thing be many things at once? Like a Small City by Carla de Goede is a delightful collection of poems that will have readers pose this question that seems almost paradoxical. And yet, through her use of language, De Goede manages to create a literary universe that embodies this very concept. The poems in this collection delve into dark and painful places, exploring the deep grief that accompanies loss. But even as they do so, they offer glimpses of hope and redemption, showing how victory and renewed strength can emerge from even the most challenging circumstances.
One of the defining features of this collection is the author’s use of language and literary devices. De Goede weaves her characters seamlessly into nature, incorporating animal and plant references in unexpected ways. These references take on a life of their own, creating a festival with the confetti of imagination. “your handprint would remain forever, a bird settling down to roost….” Despite the beauty of the natural world that permeates the poems, the stories they tell are not always easy to bear. They delve into the complexities of human relationships, exploring the pain of memories that cannot be erased and the struggle to survive in abusive situations. Throughout it all, De Goede keenly observes the world and its people, expressing her vision with honesty and insight. The end to memory is erasure, but like in a small city, little impacts leave their mark for a long time. This is well-captured in the poem ‘Suburbia after the Party’ as the author tries to reconcile the beauty of yesterday with the present aesthetics, which she considers carnage.
Due appreciation must be given for De Goede’s skillful use of metaphors to weave her narratives. They create vivid imagery and unveil hidden voices. These poetic metaphors allow the reader to fully embody the work while still leaving plenty of white space for individual interpretation.
As De Goede herself notes, writing a poem in a time of argument is something you can’t start just anywhere. Instead, it requires a careful balance of skill and inspiration – a balance she has achieved in this powerful collection, Like a Small City.
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