Monica E. Smith

Monica E. Smith

Monday, February 23, 2009

Review of Kindred: A Family Portrait

Kindred: A Family Portrait (available from:; and
by Laurel Johnson
(artist, writer and book reviewer for Midwest Book Review

Poetry by Monica E. Smith
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington IN 47403
9781440104299 $11.95

"…home is that sacred place we feel we belong." For Monica E. Smith, and in fact for most of us, that place is nature. Forests, lakes, oceans, mountains, flora and fauna are our family, our kindred. Ms. Smith's poetry and Sam Rusztyn's illustrations accent that belief beautifully throughout this comforting book.

Nature provides order, harmony, purity, and grace to humans forced frequently to live in chaos and uncertainty. This excerpt from "(Un)like the Bird" is a perfect example:

But, unlike the bird
Which takes wing
On flights of fancy
In a moment's notice,
I am grounded
By my own uncertainty

"Passage" is an exceptional commentary on the past, present, and future of trees, and a touching metaphor for life itself:

Among the fallen
Lay the ancient ones,
Beautiful in death
As they were in life
Petrified, they remain still
Where once they stood tall
Nodding their delight
In the evening breeze
And yet, as in testimony
To resurrection
They shine in splendor,
Vivid and brilliant, gilded
In morning sunlight

Nature teaches us patience, fortitude, and how to stand through trying times. Humans flounder through minutes and hours where Nature counts time in eons. This excerpt from "Telegraphy" is a haunting reminder of the lessons to be learned from observing the effect of changing times and seasons:

…if you could see beyond
The physical, see beyond
Human perception, perhaps
You could envision the connection
Between life and death, understand
That they are two halves
Of the same whole, perhaps

Monica E. Smith takes readers to "those shallow shoals of Heaven's amaranthine shores…" and beyond in this poetic paean to Nature. Kindred is an encouraging, uplifting joy.

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