In this revealing self-examination, Guy Bala writes a brief collection of free-verse poems about falling in love, exploring an intimate relationship and then losing that love. A former circus acrobat, ballet dancer and choreographer, he conveys a lively flow to each piece. In addition to movement, Bala’s poetry contains a musicality, with frequent repetition of words and lines that sometimes sound like song lyrics. While he conveys raw emotion well, what is often missing is striking imagery and insights into relationships in general.
Most of the poems combine into a fairly cohesive chronological story. The book begins with its best work, “A Mountain’s Sojourn,” a beautifully descriptive nature poem that appeared in The Highlander in 2001. This long work is one of the few that fully engages all the senses as it explores the changing of the seasons. While the length and focus on nature seem an unlikely introduction to his other poems about the turbulence of human relationships, this opening piece isn’t completely out of sync. “A Life’s Sojourn” immediately follows, providing a loose connection to the rest of the collection about emotional and physical love with a romantic partner.
Memories, Thoughts, and Dreams presents some of the visceral, unprocessed emotions generated by a passionate romance. Bala’s talent lies in his ability to reveal these emotions openly and make the feelings highly accessible to the reader. Other than in the exceptional first poem about a mountain, however, the language, imagery and content are fairly commonplace throughout this collection. Readers aren’t likely to broaden their understanding of relationships through the work, but they may find themselves commiserating with the poet, who feels his life’s sojourn is destined to be lonely.
Also available in hardcover and e-book.