FIRST LITERARY REVIEW-EAST
OCTOBER 2012 - BOOK REVIEW
Finding Sermons in Stones by Leigh Harrison
(WordCrew Publications, 2012)
ISBN # 978-0-9838417-0-8
Reviewer: Patricia Carragon
Leigh Harrison is an artiste of diverse talent who infuses her singer-songwriter flair with her love for metric and syllabic poetry. In her latest book, Finding Sermons in Stones, we enter her garden of twenty-three poems and allow our senses and inner-sense to read along with our eyes. We learn to release our inner tension though her verbal yoga and let go of the conflicts and over-stimulation of the hi-tech world. We meditate on her words, stretch our sensibilities, release the toxins, and breathe. The theme of her poetry is summed up in the title of her book, inspired by this quote from Shakespeare's As You Like It (II:i):
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones and good in every thing . . .
There is beauty in life. There is a peaceful harmony ensconced in the seasons. Within the hostility of life, there is redemption, and life is good. Ms. Harrison's words walk along a higher path. Her words strip the burden of negativity. We are released from the hectic pace, allowing ourselves to slow down, walk in nature's shoes, and be more in tune with our surroundings and ourselves.
She begins with the season of birth in her poem, SPRING.
First, shy crocus
peeks from frozen earth,
pale violet petals
edged in white
We experience the burgeoning moments associated with this season and her words are exhilarating:
Then satin daffodils,
soft as butterfly wings,
stately as parading trumpets
In WEEDS, even the "humble" weed deserves reverence and is not overlooked by the author:
Fiddlehead fern and burdock,
dandelion, Queen Anne's lace,
each beneath the hazy sun
would turn its humble face.
From humility, we embrace forgiveness in WHEN FELLOWSHIP FALTERS:
But to the garden go --
wears the humble ivy
and grace survives . . .
In THE THEOLOGY OF FLOWERS, Ms. Harrison writes that religion grows in the garden . . .
Each day, the willow bows its head
and hydrangeas pray for rain.
Violet pansies turn their eyes
heaven ward and marigolds smile . . .
And we read about butterflies dancing in fragrant temples, while other insects worship in a cathedral of roots and stems, carry eternal messages, or sing hymns. Ms. Harrison's imagination keeps growing with each line to end in a crescendo:
Even the sighing of the night breeze
carries a kind of redemption.
I am reminded of the Pete Seeger song "Turn, Turn, Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season"), adapted from the Book of Ecclesiastes (3:1-8), in reading her poem, THERE COMES A TIDE. Ms. Harrison concludes with that piece, which contains the lines:
There comes a tide within our bones --
the song of blood that courses through
our dreaming sleep and sings of love . . .
for all things change, for all things change . . .
Patricia Carragon is a New York City writer and poet. Her publications include Best Poem, BigCityLit, CLWN WR, Chantarelle's Notebook, Clockwise Cat, Danse Macabre, Ditch Poetry, Inertia, Long Island Quarterly, Lips, MÖBIUS, The Poetry Magazine, Marymark Press, Maintenant, Mad Hatters' Review, The Toronto Quarterly, Six-Word Memoirs, and more. She is the author of Journey to the Center of My Mind (Rogue Scholars Press) and Urban Haiku and More (Fierce Grace Press, 2010). Her latest book, The Cupcake Chronicles, is forthcoming from Poets Wear Prada. She is a member of Brevitas, a group dedicated to short poems. She hosts and curates the Brooklyn-based Brownstone Poets and is the editor-in-chief of the annual anthology. For more information, please check out her Web sites at http://brownstonepoets.blogspot.com and at http://patriciacarragon8.wordpress.com/.
Leigh Harrison is a life-long writer, poet, singer-songwriter, and creator of the Pentina poetry form. She has written three volumes of poetry (Tour de Farce, Our Harps Upon the Willows, and Finding Sermons in Stones), and has had two CD's of her original songs (Eclectic Chanteuse, and Oh, Wow!) released by SongCrew Music. Her poetry has been widely published in print and online. She is currently co-producing videos of the Poet To Poet (with Robert Dunn) TV show for viewing on YouTube, and is working on her fourth poetry collection, third music CD, and first poetry CD. www.leighharrison.com