Reviewed by Brian E. Wrixon
Author: Gina Nemo
Publisher: Melinda Cochrane International
Gina Nemo’s book of poems is divided into two parts. The first part, entitled “Spinning”, contains a selection of her works written over the years – some old, some new. The second half of the book is called “Flying”, and it showcases a grouping of love poems that are dedicated to her special someone. One cannot help but think that the writer of the first section is indeed spinning – spinning around, spinning her wheels, spinning out of control, as she searches for a firm footing and true happiness in life. In the second section, we see the writer who has now found a reality based on love and is flying high with the emotions that this relationship has brought to her. She soars on the wings of love and all the doubts and uncertainties of her spinning stage of life are now far below and behind her.
Early in the book we get a glimpse of her direction as she telegraphs where she is headed. She writes in the poem “Eraser”:
I erased you
On my imaginary
Inside my head
And then one
Day I got up
In class and
I wrote a new story
With permanent ink.
Or later in “The Broken Meter”:
She travelled far to find her way
All that wisdom and too much play
Her heart heard it in his finger tap
His silent madness was her trap.
Gina Nemo finds inspiration for her poetry in all facets of life and living, whether it is in growing older, fighting the diet war, raising children, dealing with death in the family, watching the news, getting through the day with a cup of coffee (hopefully an undisturbed one – “A Moment at a Coffee Shop”), or seeing animals languishing in zoos. They are all fodder for her creative mind. She writes very simply and chooses her words carefully. Unlike many writers, she uses few words. Most times her sentence structure is far from being long and elaborate. In fact, her lines of poetry are often only two or three words long, but they are always words that count for much. And then she surprises you with an offering that seems to be completely out of character with the rest. It leaves you with a delightful wonderment, pondering what could possibly have made her stray into a world of complicated thoughts and sentences. The poem “Statues” is a good example of this different style:
Three young mutilated bodies, lying there like cracked statues
along the riverbank where they took the long way home as their
memories floated downstream.
Cries in the dark, screams fled with the creatures,
for they never thought those monsters were real
and will never walk home to their manhood.
I think that the section on “Spinning” is summed up nicely in the poem “Life’s Pace” when Gina writes:
It’s the pace
Life is not
We watch her carefully maneuver through life as it puts her though the paces. She watches what is around her, tastes it, experiences it and through her interactions with life and its vicissitudes, we follow her words as she journeys and as she attempts to find her own space. We know that she will eventually get there because, as she says in “Queen Dead”:
And I made a
Promise to myself
That I would
Never go insane.
In “Digging For Glass”, she gives us a hint of what is to come in the next section of the book when she writes:
Just keep digging
She told herself.
Pain goes away
Like anything else
Just believe it
Believe in yourself.
In “Flying”, the second part of the book, we find a soul that has been now set free to explore the world from a different vantage point. The writer’s attitudinal change is apparent from the first poem in this section:
7 SECONDS AGO
I lost my heart
7 seconds ago
Of my chest
As she says, “A poet loves”, “She writes memories”, “Her heat melts ice.” The spinning out of control that she described in the first part of the book has now become a controlled spin, a “Twirling” as it were:
I spin for
She has arrived at her designated place in life with her lover and despite all her previously expressed spinnings, she now exclaims:
We are who
It is as if the past has all been forgotten, but we know from her writings that her past has defined her, and stays with her despite her saying:
Once again Gina Nemo looks to everyday life for inspiration for her poetry and she sees “him” everywhere. He is summer, He is in the kitchen, His paintbrush touches her heart, His fingers play her brain, He is the sugar in her coffee, He is the moon, a wave, the ocean itself. It is interesting that she concludes the section on “Flying” with a last reference to “Spinning” in the poem for which the book was named:
YOU ARE MY CAROUSEL
You are my carousel
That keeps evolving
Our hands out, feeling free
Our Hearts on a wire
Swinging with a song
Playing in our minds
The difference is that she no longer spins out of control or spins her wheels to no advantage. She nows continues to spin, round and round on the carousel of her love. Indeed, her lover is her carousel, and with that ride she has now found freedom.
I think that Gina Nemo’s Carousel is a very different book of poetry. Most times we are treated to an author’s collection and it is little more than that, just a collection. Gina’s book is more of a life story, an autobiography. All her poetry hangs together and the two distinct sections tell an actual story. She is a very talented writer who chooses her few words carefully. She leaves it up to the reader to fill in the blanks, to add the missing details. In this way she forces the reader to pay close attention, perhaps to re-read where needed. If this were a novel, we would call it a page turner. She draws the reader in and we cannot wait to get to the next poem to see what happens. That, in my opinion, is the mark of a suberb storyteller. It just so happens that this storyteller is a poet, and a very good one at that.
Brian E. Wrixon