Saturday, 30 August 2014

Reflecting the Light by Bobbie Coelho - A Review

Bobbie Coelho is a writer of poems so profound that they cannot help but touch you in some way, and leave a lasting impression. Some will make you smile, maybe laugh a little, and some will make you think deeply on the subject. Some will even make you shed a tear, I am sure. Whichever one speaks to you the loudest, It is bound to stay with you for a very long time.

From the front matter
This is Bobbie Coelho’s second anthology of poetry and follows on from her first, Finding the Light, which is also published by SilverWood Books.

Bobbie Coelho was born near Norwich and now lives in Hampshire with her husband, Steve. She has two stepsons and three grandchildren. She has always enjoyed poetry, but after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2002, she was particularly compelled to write as a way of putting things into perspective.

Bobbie strongly supports Parkinson’s UK therefore all profits of this book will go towards research into Parkinson’s and the ongoing search for a cure.
Bobbie Coelho, May 2014

I ‘know’ Bobbie from social media, and have ‘chatted’ with her many times. Her fortitude in coping with her disease is admirable, and through her poetry she gives the reader an insight into her life. Some of the poems with grab your heart, and some of them will make you smile, for example, Ode to a Halibut.
I have chosen to review the poems that have touched me the most, that have made me sit up and think, and have, to some extent placed me in Bobbie’s shoes for a few moments.

The first poem, Reflecting the Light, is one such poem. A short journey through a life until there is some ‘knowing’ that it is alright to be one’s self, and not to bother what other people think of you.

Reflecting the Light

In youth the way ahead is misty and obscure
Hard to navigate, even as you mature
Old age brings the joy of seeing clearer than before
A footpath revealed far beyond the open door
I’ve left the dark, travelled far
Sitting peacefully at last
Reflected in the light
Knowing never to fear
The coldest, darkest night.

To me this poem is an insight into how it feels to come to terms with one’s illness, to make a positive out of a negative. It’s admirable, and exceedingly profound.

Bobbie is taking us through the ages of ‘man’ if you will, – youth, mature, old age; pointing out that it is a personal journey that we travel. Whether we be able bodied, or have a disease such as Parkinson’s. Let us, for a moment, look at the word ‘disease’ – let us break it down… dis – ease. Dis the dictionary tells us is indicating a reversal, so in this case, a reversal of good health, a reversal of ease, which the dictionary tells us is freedom from discomfort, worry or anxiety. So when we put the two together we have reversal of comfort, an illness, which in the case of Parkinson’s is an incurable disease at the moment. 

Bobbie assures the reader that she is, Sitting peacefully at last/ Reflected in the light/ Knowing never to fear/ The coldest, darkest night. These four lines sit in the heart of the reader, feeling the understanding of what it is to come to terms with something that can only be lived with and incurable.

The second poem that I would like to discuss is Me.

It starts with a line that I’m sure many of us have discussed and wondered about, or maybe have never voiced it. The premise of having been reborn many times.

It’s been said we’re reborn many times
To learn all our lessons through other minds

Bobbie has a unique way of making the reader confront their thoughts, how they feel about something, and how they would deal with it. I would always choose to be me – Choosing to be herself even with her illness, shows determination, fortitude, and a zest for life that will not be extinguished.

The next poem that I would like to talk about is; Into the Light

A five stanza poem with a rhyme that carries the reader through to the finish before you realise it; so you go back and read it again, only this time you read it more slowly. The difference is that you ‘get it’ – the message is there for all to see. It’s a journey through a life. Let me quote the first verse:

Born on the last day of summer’s reign
Only two minutes of the day remained
Starting my life as the autumn came
But very soon the seasons changed

And the journey progresses through the other verses, telling of just how a life was remembered, and finishes with:

Born at the end of a summer’s reign
Into a world never returning again
Strayed from my path, but ended up right
Born as day came from the night
Out of the dark and into the light.

For me that demonstrates an acceptance of a life, of its ills, its lows and its highs. The use of summer’s reign has a feel of presiding over the renewing a life, making things grow. So the opening line, Born on the last day of summer’s reign, followed by, Only two minutes of the day remained; would suggest to me that she felt that she was born just in time, but in time for what, I wonder?

The third verse, I feel, is an epiphany of sorts;

It seems to me that time doesn’t fly
Just trickles slowly and I don’t know why
In the morning’s mirror it’s youth I see
In the evening an old face stares back at me

It is so tangible; the feeling of becoming less than one was to begin with. I think we all feel like our younger selves, until we are reminded of our status when we look in the mirror. It tells of a passage of time, of not being able to hold onto it. When it’s gone, it’s gone.

The last two lines of the fourth verse are truly profound, and, for me, they are the most powerful;

Sweet memories are all that remain
But reminiscences that will always stay

To me this is a summing up of a life, reminding the reader that it is deeds and memories that we live by, and the future is something that we never quite reach; it is always just one step away.

There are many wonderful and powerful poems in Bobbie Coelho’s book, but for me Into the Light is by far the most powerful. I have read it many times now, and each time it conveys something different, but always it is poignant, touching the heart of the reader, the writer having just bared her soul, and letting us all know just how she feels.

This is a book to cherish, to read and reread many times over. It’s an eclectic collection, a poem for every mood, I think. Some are humorous, and some are of sadness and illness, and the overcoming of such. Always, though, Bobbie Coelho fills her poems with honesty, with an openness that will astound. It’s as though she has opened her heart, and filled the pages of this wonderful poetry book for all to contemplate, and even enjoy.

Bobbie Coelho can be found on Facebook

You can purchase Bobbie Coelho's book from here