Aytac Aydogan Edwards’ Between Two Worlds is a slim collection of the Turkish author’s meditations on nature and impermanence. Many of these 43 poems are simple and straightforward – similar to prayers. The brief length of most enables the reader to take in each contemplative moment, allowing insight into the moment that inspired the poem.
Particularly of note is “Her Next Two Husbands,” in which the narrator “tend[s] the earth as if it were my lover,” while noting that her widowed grandmother used to say her next two husbands would be “the grave digger and the black earth.” Not only is the title compelling, but the relationship between the author’s work and the grandmother’s statement catches the reader off guard in two short stanzas.
Not all of the poems allow themselves to sit quietly on the page, however, as some contain overt attempts to convey a message, a temptation poets would do best to avoid. For instance, “Make Room,” a poem that provides examples of self-acceptance and gratitude, would still be an affectionate reminder “to breathe/deeply/to be” – even without the instruction to do so at the end.
Yet there are enough highlights to make the exploration worthwhile, particularly as the book is illustrated with art by the author that mirrors the same gentle accessibility as the poems. The painting opposite the poem “Mourning” conveys both the pain of loss and the paradoxical beauty of space integral to the poem.
The overall reading experience is rather like walking along a stretch of beach thinking how pretty the rocks look, knowing they will certainly lose some of their luster if you were to remove them from their environment. And suddenly you find a piece of polished glass glinting in the sun. You want to keep going, not just for the pleasure of the beach, but for the expectation of further surprises.
Between Two Worlds, while containing some poems of only modest success, holds such moments of delight for readers.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.