A review of The Other Life by Patrick Connors

Reviewed By Lorraine Currelley

The Other Life
by Patrick Connors
Mosaic Press
Paperback: 111 Pages, July 2021, ISBN: 9781771615402

Reviewing a book is an intimate experience, one I wish to savor. I am not interested in literary quickies. I refuse to rush through a book. I am known to have a book in my posession for months and will only review it when the appropriate time presents itself. I have a responsibility to the reader, the author and myself. Ours is a literary relationship and I’m going to give it all I have.

How do I enter a review? I enter as though I were being introduced to a live person. I admit to having expectations. I want to experience living and breathing characters, real individuals coming alive on the book’s pages. I want a connection. I want to leave having gained from my encounter with the manuscript. No finger nails scratching the chalk board experience. I do not want a praying my way through long suffering relationship with the book. If it is not working, I think it best to end the relationship and move on. I want to like and appreciate what the author has created. Readers are invested in their relationships with books. Once we reach into our pockets and made our purchases the commitment starts.

Patrick Connors has delivered. He is a peoples poet. The individuals living within his poems are not foreign to us nor are their lives. They are  the individuals we interact with daily. They are family members, neighbors and fellow shoppers we chat with at the supermarket. His poetry is easily accessible. There is a welcomed familiarity. Readers will not encounter any problem connecting. Connors is unafraid to express real human emotions whether love, sadness, hope, disappointment,  expectation and desire. These emotions were set center stage in a favorite and resonating poem “My Father the Poet”.

Connors allows the voices living within his pages freedom. It is the vulnerability of his poems that make them so appealing. There are no family secrets. This is the case with his poem “In the House Where I Grew Up”. There is no ‘what happens in this house stays in this house’ rules. When he speaks of the kitchen table left behind I am reminded of shared family conversations over the years. The kitchen table once it left the store became a part of the family, housing histories and herstories over the years:

In the House Where I Grew Up

The kitchen table
In the house where I grew up
Was wooden, cold and stained
Came apart in the middle

Like so many ruined meals
And other realities hard to digest

Silences which say more than words can say
Furtive glances the only I love you
Support incomplete, bond left unspoken

When we left the house where I grew up
The kitchen table stayed behind
But the dining room table came with us
A place to spend and fear the holidays

Anchor to hold us to our past
When we did not know how to be family

Patrick Connors’ poems are unpretentious and refreshingly authentic. The Other Life is a flowing read. There were times I stopped to savor and ponder his words. We readers are invested and interested in learning the nuances of specific character’s lives. Connors speaks clearly.

What does every reader want? We want to know the author and the persons depicted in the book. We’re faced with a number of daily life challenges. The last thing we need is to have to struggle to understand the literature being presented to us. We want to know our characters and the author. We want a human experience. In some respects depending on the subject we want to see ourselves on the pages. We want to acknowledge a familiar local and individuals. Connors is the perfect host and we appreciate him for welcoming us. In summation, I end my review with the poem “Ready”:

Ready

A poem is the sunrise after darkest night,
An unexpected answer to much fervent prayer.

It is grace extended from a neglaected muse,
only asking to be shared and seen, heard and felt.

A poem is inspiration
quickly recorded before lost,

cut down, built up, cut down again,
until it’s ready to be read.

About the reviewer: Lorraine Currelley, poet, spoken word performance artist, multi-genre writer, Pearls of Wisdom storyteller, educator, curator and visual artist. Most recently named Bronx Beat Poet Laureate State of New York 2020–2022. Widely anthologized and multi-awards recipient. Executive Director for Poets Network &
Exchange and the Bronx Book Fair. She has a Masters degree in Mental Health Counseling, a Bachelors in Psychology and Specialization in Thanatology (grief and bereavement.) Anti-ageism advocate and activist. She resides in New York City. To contact and learn more visit: www.pw.org/directory/writers/lorraine_currelley

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