Review Blog

Nov 11 2014

Every time you close your eyes by Bel Schenk

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Wakefield Press, 2014. ISBN: 9781743053195
(Age: Secondary - Adult) Recommended. Themes: Connection and isolation; New York; Irony. Style: Prose Poetry. This is an atmospheric telling of the intermingling of connection and isolation during two Blackouts in New York. Set in both 1977 and 2003 during two distinct Blackouts in New York's history, it is told in bare Prose poetry where every word carries weight. There is irony in this tale of the world's most energetic city being 'powerless'. The characters, few though they are, have their stories woven gently from poem to poem with a sense of relationship that creates an impression of both the isolation and social cohesion of life in the Big Apple. Schenk shows how the Blackouts emphasised how the members of the community related to one another. The oblique references to the 'Son of Sam' murders and the 9/11 events and the impacts of those tragedies highlighted the impact of events outside one's personal control on the fabric of relationship in a big city.
The title evocatively reminds us that Every time you close your eyes there is the opportunity for 'blackout' and internal connection, isolation and also remembrance of relationship.
This is an 'adult' book, but easy to read. Its power is in its sensitivity.
It could easily be used for Secondary Study, looking at Prose poetry.
Carolyn Hull

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