Saturday, September 12, 2015

I Dream of Empathy by Marianne Szlyk

Marianne Szlyk's poetry chapbook, I Dream of Empathy, revolves around the themes of empathy for the earth, other people (including her mother and her first husband), and even herself.  

Review from Midwest Book Review:

Mike Maggio
Marianne Szlyk's I Dream of Empathy is a short collection of narrative poems that deftly address the tenuousness of life in the 21st century. Through well-crafted verse, Szlyk speaks to the daily issues we face as the world around us changes and we are left with nothing but memory, sometimes faded, sometimes as vivid as an old photograph or a painting. Indeed, memory is the overriding theme, tying these poems together as they meander back and forth through a landscape of burned-down tenements, environmental disaster and gentrified cities.
Yet, through all the direness that Szlyk presents - droughts and polluted lakes, tenuous relationships, and lives that persist despite themselves - there rises a voice that conquers all: a voice of beauty and - yes, empathy - a voice that only poetry can conjure under such circumstances. Images such as "scuffed hills" and "scouring waves" pop out everywhere And the music of harps and saxophones rings through verse that is at once syncopated and flush with natural speech rhythms. Lines, such as these from "She Wonders What Will Become Of This City," tie the landscape, once lush, now tainted, with the lost lives that struggle to salvage it:
The green fuzz of moss grows over trees
like plaque on teeth. Bones ache with decay.
Or this stanza from "Harbour Round (I)" in which the narrator laments the absence of human activity in a place where it once existed while at the same time reveling in the ability of nature to reclaim itself:
The ghosts of houses stand
on boulders and pale shrubs,
green fingers sprouting
in the absence of people
and the hard, needled trees
that sprout up inland.
These poems are peopled with characters we recognize from an era gone by; they are painted with a palette that somehow, despite the blight and pollution ("The Nashua River \ that ran red \ or blue or green \ depending on the paper \ Wallace's mill was making") manages to vibrate with an alluring sense of beauty.

A strongly crafted book from an able and empathic poet.

Review on

Dr. Marianne Szlyk’s new book: I Dream Of Empathy is outstanding. When poetry is sometimes so sweet it makes your teeth hurt, this book is just the opposite. It opened my eyes to many ideas and closed them in contemplation. Full of swirling images, jazz, journeys, stories, Spanish, cats; all shared on her vision quest. The cover art by Bea Garth at first made me think of Modigliani, but then I remembered two painters I’d met that her work was like. Mexican painter Francisco Mora and Navajo painter R.C. Gorman. The book is a cohesive tasty morsel of ghosts, memories, rivers, rain, and thunder. The poems are like a jazz composition, soothing, mellow, and interesting. I Dream Of Empathy was published by Flutter Press. I strongly recommend this book.

~ Catfish McDaris, poet

About the Author:

Marianne Szlyk is a professor of English at Montgomery College, an associate poetry editor for Potomac Review, and a member of the DC Poetry Project.  She also edits The Song Is…, a blog-zine for poetry and flash fiction inspired by music, especially jazz.  Her previous chapbook, Listening to Electric Cambodia, Looking up at Trees of Heaven, is available online through Kind of a Hurricane Press.

46 pages, 27 poems

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