The pieces in Love and Other Poems are dedicated “To those who loved me and those I’ve loved through my lifetimes.” They focus almost exclusively on romantic love, including remembered sexual encounters, intimate fantasies, and longing for a beloved after he has gone.
While the poems show a certain skill for lyrical composition (“Here high above the rising road I wait…”), they don’t entirely succeed, mostly due to their reliance on time-worn ideas and abstractions instead of distinctive, showing details.
For instance, in the poem “Dear Universe,” it could be any speaker who is seeking “a man I can laugh with/ share with/ hold hands with.// A man who will cradle me/ kiss me/ love me.” This speaker’s desires are presented generically, without the inclusion of any personalizing context or backstory. The title figure in “To Him” and “Secret Love” is equally generic, and the poem offers little in the way of effective visual imagery. Readers, for example, cannot picture “the sole essence that called forth my heart.”
The author’s lovemaking poems also suffer from a lack of specificity; for example: “You lay over me/ beneath me/ between me/ in the sunlight/ in the darkness.” While the concept is lovely, without more powerful imagery or poignant details about this couple, readers remain emotionally removed.
For sophisticated readers of contemporary poetry, this collection is hampered by a persistent lack of specificity, concrete detail, and original imagery. It moves between the sentimental and the overly dramatic (“Walking as death in a life so strange/a road without end/ no touchstone// No hope”). Nonetheless, the poems use clear and accessible diction and depict strong, familiar emotions. As a consequence, they may appeal to readers of light verse and those who have been through romantic challenges.