Book Review

Allegra Jostad Silberstein, Through Sun-glinting Particles, Parallel Press, 2012

by R.A. Davis


into the spirit.
Let the body move
into dance,
creation spiraling
toward galaxies
where colors spin:
a kaleidoscope,
a starry night.

Enter the unknown:
the quest for meaning.
Parameters of the body
will anchor your search
with understanding
held in the genes
ancient as Abraham.

Take your soul by the
hand and let it touch
the beaten heart,
let it feel the soft
winds whisper.
The breath.
The body.

("Toward Galaxies")

While this poem was the last in Through Sun-glinting Particles by Allegra Jostad Silberstein, it defines just how comforting the entire book was. Each poem in this collection reads like prayer, meditation, or mantra, holding the power to resonate with even the hardest to please of poetry readers. From the first poem,

...and in this moment

I want for birds that have not
come this morning

for birds that have not
sung their evening song,
for candlelight-
the glass of wine, the loaf of bread

for the conjugation of touch
coming back to present tense...

("In This Moment")


you feel immediately eased into a warm bath, a glass of wine in your hand, scented candles relaxing away the stress; the poems in this book are just that serene and calming, nothing frantic like our daily lives tend to be.

"Let Us Sing Aubades" is just such an example of the power of Silberstein's words to enlighten and empower us to celebrate each day that we are given. It reminds us, in one simple stanza, to have faith and not to dwell on the darkness in our lives that tends to encompass and hold us hostage:

...Let us sing aubades to morning light,
to each new day, to each new start, to all
the wild birds that whisper hope in their flight.
Do not acquaint me with dark of night.

Following the same premise of finding peace, and even having perseverance, we journey with the author in "My Empty Footsteps" when:

...Awake, [she walks] a deeply shadowed road
[her] ought to's shout without a kind reply,
[her] but [she] had to's just an added load
that holds [her] down when [she] would rather fly...

How many times I have felt my own added loads holding me down when I would rather fly! To say that I didn't find a single poem in  Silberstein's book that did not resonate with me is an understatement. Even in some small way, I found those that I would use simple stanzas to write my own personal experiences from:

...More than words, though,
I want arms to hold me close
without making a prison.
Arms, not armaments.

("You Ask Me")

Or to use as mantras and meditations to begin, or get through, my day:

I rise: my body more space than substance
and leave behind the sharp, dark edges
of the night's worries.

Today I will wrap forgotten dreams
in little boxes with tinsel tissue and red ribbon.
There's room on my holding shelf.


There was nothing hurried about the poems in Through Sun-glinting Particles. I felt each and every word and meditated on each syllable. Each poem was well thought out, and almost sufi-like, in its presentation and meaning.

I think one can sum up the value of this book on every bookshelf by the following poem, "In Diffused Light", which is now my writer's meditation:

A piece of paper, a scatter of ink,
messages, like bridges we cross,
water below, blue sky above
spanning channels of gain and loss.
Outside my room, trees tangle thoughts:
their falling leaves, their golden flight
like butterflies weaving in and out
through diffused morning light
without shadows, yet how it glows:
wraps a theurgy on my heart.
This divine waking on me bestows
a new beginning, a fresh start
and the old words and songs I've sung
come to poems I've just begun.

R.A. Davis owns and operates Altered Words, offering freelance editing, proofreading, and typing services. In addition to her business ventures, Ramona has facilitated poetry writing workshops through the DC Public Library for youth in underprivileged communities, holds a Certificate in Advancing Youth Development, owned an after school program to benefit youth in at risk areas of Baltimore, MD. She has also done volunteer editing for a variety of authors and owns an organization (Chained With Love) that donates handmade, crocheted scarves to homeless women and their families in the Dane County area of Wisconsin.