Poetry by Bruce Roberts and Lynn Lonidier: Reviewed by J’Rie B. Elliott

In the last few weeks, I have been given the opportunity to read not one, but two, poetry books by writers from California. Though both writers originated in the same state, that is all they have in common.

The first book I received was “Hayward Hometown Poetry” by Bruce Roberts. This was a collection of poetry about his hometown, though saying it is only about the town is not completely accurate, as it is also about the residents of the town, and how the writer remembers the area. Mr. Roberts took a freestyle approach to his poetry, making it slightly more difficult to understand for a novice poetry reader. Some of the images that were brought forth in his writings made this reviewer wonder if he really loved the town, or if he loved what the town used to be, but is no longer.

I was moved by one of his poems entitled, “Night School,” where he wrote about a former student of his, a woman whose 11 year old son had murdered a man. It described the writer’s disbelief of and heartache in the situation – also the questions he asked himself while facing the step-mother of an 11 year old killer. This poem would a cause reader to think and ponder the question ‘where is my baby at?’ Though I did not find his work to be especially emotionally moving or gut-wrenching, Mr. Roberts did do what he set out to do and successfully painted a clear, poetic picture of his views of Hayward California, his hometown.

J’Rie Elliott may be reached at dixiepoet@gmail.com.

The second book that was given to me for my consideration was “The Rhyme of the Ag-ed Mariness: Last Poems of Lynn Lonidier.” This book was compiled and crafted after her death in 1993. Though I have read and studied thousands of poetry books, this book is unique to any other poetry book I’ve ever read.

This poetry is not for even the intermediate poetry reader, as her style is difficult to follow, and at times it is difficult to even find the subject of her poetry. She did successfully make this reviewer say, “What did she say?” as she not only incorporated Spanglish (a combination of English and Spanish) into her work, but also some slang words that are generally not found in poetic works. Evidently she was a pioneer in her time and she was a passionate, colorful lesbian woman. I cannot say that I found her writing style to be inspiring or stirring, nor did it make me want to seek out and read her other works; however these poems did give the reader a glimpse into the life, mind and heart of a woman who is no longer with us, on Earth.

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