In Clandestine: A Classic Book of Poetry, Amy Ritchie explores her inner journey toward healing after her father’s death.
This short volume is divided into three sections: “Part I. She Was Inconsolable,” “Part II. She is Restored,” and “Part III. She is Stardust.” This arc brings readers through grief, healing, and spiritual growth.
Poems in the first section are sad but often include notes of tenuous solace, as in “The Foreshadowing,” which ends, “I sit in grief, knowing that his death is a foreshadowing of my own. / I think, We know it will happen to us./ … / We are still here,/ For now.”
Throughout the book, Ritchie blends nature and faith, finding the sacred in the balance of the universe, as in “Dawn’s Arrival,” which personifies the sun as a “sister” to distant stars and claims, “Together they are a family/ Who expects nothing and everything,/ Illuminating the sacred rhythm of life.”
While the poems have a nice lyrical quality to them, the collection suffers from several weaknesses. Many of the images and phrases are overly familiar: Words such as “heavens, “moon,” “earth,” “sun,” “skies,” etc. are used too frequently.
Additionally, many poems feature abstract, bland, language and are lacking in detail, as in “Dreamer,” which includes, “Creative and passionate/ Dreams, achieves, makes things happen.” Readers aren’t given any specifics as to what “creative” or “passionate” looks or feels like for the narrator or potential listener. Such poems leave little impression and often feel trite because they are so vague.
Also, the tiny, cursive font is difficult to read. It would be easier on the eye if only the titles were in cursive.
The collection’s flaws make it unlikely to attract contemporary poetry readers. However, it may appeal to Christians, as it encourages readers to have faith and focus on the blessings in life, despite the inevitable losses.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.