Impassioned Soul is a courageous first book by a talented author. Shirley Bolstok boldly takes up many aspects of life, personal development and human evolution without preaching ... and without cynicism or bitterness. Particularly moving are her poems about personal relationships and tragic historic events (eg. 9/11, the Holocaust). Bolstok consistently shows both sensitivity and vision in her writing, and much of what she writes about is easy to relate to ... primarily because she writes with such honesty, and about emotions, thoughts and life processes that we all have but perhaps seldom talk about in public. There is great healing in such.
I do have one criticism regarding her usage of rhyme: in the poems in which the rhyming words conclude every line or every other line, I sometimes felt that the inevitability of the rhyme interfered with my ability to take in all of the supporting words leading up to the rhyming word. Simply speaking, the rhyming process took over too much of my concentration. However, the poems where Bolstok surprised me by breaking up the rhyming patterns worked rather well for me. Although, rhyming poetry is a valid and age-old classical form with many possibilities, I would personally love to see a second book by Shirley Bolstok that breaks a bit more from tightly-worked rhyming patterns.
That being said, Bolstok has written several fine poems worth mentioning: "Cardboard Cut-outs", "The Invisible Storm", "The Longing", "Collective Motion" and "Ventilator" to name just a few. I would like to conclude this review with two of her poems: