In this brief book, physician and mother Irene Riot shares poems, photographs, and stories that explore timeless themes of love, heartbreak, and resilience.
Journey Through Life has eleven sections; most of the poetry sections have four poems each, while the story section includes seven short prose pieces. The majority of poems are shorter than one page, structured into four-line stanzas made up of two rhyming couplets. Riot’s diction is simple, leaning on orthodox natural imagery, as in the poem “On Borrowed Time,” in which the speaker claims: “Life was fine before I met you / The daily grind I always got through / I saw grey skies, felt the sun shine / Then I chanced upon your smile.”
The most distinctive language and stories are in poems about the body and specific relationships, as in “My Nephew,” in which the boy is described as, “Same blood from a different womb / Different flock with the same plume.” In the poem “Tainted Lotus,” Riot uses the lotus as a metaphor for the fragile connection between doctor and meth-addicted patient, “Tainted lotus you smile at me / Feed me lies I pretend to believe / Away you float, you are a lost soul / You’ll sink in the mud when I let you go.”
Riot’s engaging, suspenseful prose pieces are about modern Filipino characters and vividly narrate fast-paced, realistic vignettes about a young boy’s typhoid fever incident, a supernatural visitation, and a Oujia board. The book also includes snapshots of the author, her daughter, and nephew.
Riot’s poetry contains too many clichÃ©s for it to be called “accomplished” (i.e.: “Your soft touch soothes my soul”; “Chase away the dark clouds,” and so on), but readers, especially mothers, looking to see their own raw emotions mirrored on the page may find a kindred spirit in these pages.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.