Saturday, July 19, 2008



Suddenly, Fruit by Linda Tomol Pennisi
(Carolina Wren Press, Durham, N.C., 2006)

Linda Tomol Pennisi is the recipient of several literary awards and grants, all well-deserved. Her skillful blending of the real and surreal through words intrigued me. Pennisi spreads a soothing balm over anguish, then scours our nerve endings raw. She lives in her poems, inhabits each word and phrase while drawing readers into her reality.

“Behind My Tongue” has a power borne of being female, and a woman who has become the words she speaks, and vice versa. How she sees the world and melds into it is part of the female mystique:
At home, the iris ruffles
its edge,
stem reaching earthward,
the green of my eye
the lush word inside.

“Missing” brought an icy chill to my heart and haunted me long after reading it. Through Pennisi’s words, each one bearing a simple power of its own, I became the woman whose child is lost:
Her girl is twelve now,
going into the seventh grade.
In the brush beneath the tall maples,
her pink and white bike
was found three weeks ago,
papers scattered like flags,
crayola markers strewn nearby, a small
chaos of washable colors.
Persephone, cutting thick stems on a flat
board, knows there are holes in the earth.
She knows.

“In the Next Field” is a long poem, a stunning contemplation on death that the poet softens with visions of natural beauty. Again, the effect of this poem stayed with me long after I read it because sorrow is lightened by joyful intermissions:
I think of flight.
In a burst of early snow,
like clots, dislodge
from the sky.

Such maddening
hunger. The feeder
oozes. And sings.

On rare occasions, I think of myself as a writer and poet. Then a book like Suddenly, Fruit comes along and demonstrates that gifted poets are born, not created in a vacuum by wishful thinking. Linda Tomol Pennisi has a powerful gift. Her work is highly recommended.


Laurel Johnson is a Retired Registered Nurse and the author of four books. She is Senior Reviewer for Midwest Book Review and Review Editor for New Works Review. Her poetry and prose can be found online in various literary e-zines. She lives in Kansas with her husband of forty-plus years.

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