A cancer survivor, wife, and mother, Susan H. McIntyre uses the medium of poetry to explore all the facets of her life. In Orphan Dreams, McIntyre’s first poetry collection, she shares both the pain and the pleasures she has encountered along these journeys, through a first-person voice that is both familiar and accessible.
In this sense, Orphan Dreams is reminiscent of both Robert Bly and Lucille Clifton’s work. Lke McIntyre, these poets were primarily concerned with the challenges and triumphs of everyday life — and the accidental transcendental insights that often accompany them. For example, in “The Dropped Stitch,” McIntyre writes, “Something about knitting/ Draws women to it/ And fascinates those who/ Watch a single strand of yarn/ Weave itself together/ As the needles click on and on.” And “Lone Bird” evokes a simple, calm moment in the words: “snow-covered forests/ ice shines brightly on bare trees/ a lone bird sings praise.”
Many readers will find McIntyre’s warm tone throughout to be engaging and her views on loss, survival, family and friends heartwarming, as in “Mojo Multiplier”: “Our homes are messy,/ Our lives are a wreck/ But with each other/ There’s a mojo effect.”
Unfortunately, McIntyre also takes this sweetness too far in places, leaving the reader awash in too much sugar, as in the beginning of “The Best Flower in the Garden”: “Oh my love, I truly want to be/ The prettiest flower in the garden./ Dressed in colors that you will see/ And a love that gives off a soft fragrance.”
In sum, Orphan Dreams is a fun, albeit somewhat predictable read. Those who can overlook the sentimentality and overly simplistic rhyming schemes that appear in some of the pieces will find themselves turning the pages for more small insights into the nature of being human.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.