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SHIRLEY BOLSTOK - Impassioned Soul: a courageous first book

SHIRLEY BOLSTOK - Impassioned Soul: a courageous first book

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:


Outside my window the sunshine seems darker

 I sit in my living room reading about this or that

Somehow the shadows look deeper and starker

 Creating strange contours with lint on the floor-mat

An odd anxiety clashes with the monotonous TV

 The radio singing with the reminiscence of the heart

All this noise but I can't hear a thing

 I see lives devastated and torn apart

We're looking over our shoulders for the unseen

 While the adversary sits in our television and radio

Speaking of war, while we wonder what they mean

 While threats of biological warfare continue to grow

We still don't know the face of our enemy

 Because voices inside speakers continue to bellow

Screaming, how we must take care but live our lives

 But our imaginations will never let us be free

All the things we fear are spinning into beehives

 While we look for safety and renounce autonomy

Quickly the beehives are developing into a swarm

 Now a fierce, invisible tornado called the, "Media Storm." 


These are days

With no beginning and no end

A collective motion

Of events that pass me by

An empty stream of thoughts

Ride my emotions

Stranding me in the stillness

Leaving no cry

I am lost in the sea

That is known as myself


To re-emerge

After a lonely retreat

I'm blinded

To my own vision

Now a cloud of dreams

Wandering in desperate silence

Outside of myself


In beat 

I look forward to seeing Shirley Bolstok's next book, and her continuing development as a poet. 

- Literary criticism (2008) by Adam Donaldson Powell (based upon "Impassioned Soul", published by, 2007, ISBN 978-81-8253-083-6, 96 pages, paperback, US$15)

SHIRLEY BOLSTOK  (USA) has written several individual poems which have been widely published in newspapers, anthologies and online magazines. "Impassioned Soul" is her first poetry book.