November 2009 – The Lives You Touch Publications
From the author:
During my twenties, I didn’t write very many poems; I loved language and playing with words, but didn’t feel I had anything vital to say. However, by the time I reached my thirties, I began to think about relationships: how we love, how we say hello or goodbye to someone who carries a piece of our spirit. Love, to me, is complicated and not always pretty. I wrote these poems over the course of five years, thinking all the time about how we love each other: parent or grandparent to child, friend to friend, lover to lover. For me, the poems in this collection are a transcription of that experience, encompassing not only the pain, but also the joy and the utter complexity of what love can be.
How to photograph the heart ignites our memories, not just with familiar visions of the natural world sewn into fluid language and personification but also with the raw release of images that takes us beyond what is normally perceived.
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Amid these angles of loss and grief, Klocek-Lim interlaces love, want, and the simple complexities of togetherness.
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We’re left with a longing to know the clarity of love and the human condition and the ways in which to focus, stop, and shoot what lies beneath the chest, what sustains us and moves “in the luminous silence” that is shared in her title poem.
~ Theresa Senato Edwards, MA, MFA, Editor, Holly Rose Review.
To photograph the heart is to make visible the unseen, but paradoxically it also is to make the familiar new and even mysterious. Arguably, these have always been the poet’s tasks. In this first gathering of her poems, Christine Klocek-Lim presents pictures of the heart’s landscape—relationships, memories, loss, love, grief, mutability—a well-charted but still mysterious terrain.
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These poems are unrelentingly inward looking, which is a tricky business for a poet, but when they succeed they do so by tying their introspections to a recognizable external world. At that point they transcend the merely personal and gain emotional currency in a world the reader recognizes.
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The title of this chapbook is both an instruction and a question. In the end, though, these poems are less a set of directions than attempts at answering that question.
~ Steven Bunch, read the full review here.
A slim chapbook that opens with the title poem, How to photograph the heart. This poem reminds me of Ruth Stone’s short, yet highly evocative poetry, the kind of poems that one can pick up, read and then carry around the rest of the day, luxuriating in the language and images the poet has captured.
If this was the only poem in the book, it would be worth the trip in, but the poet has additional wonders.
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Ms. Klocek-Lim moves in the book between poems and between sections (rain, fragile, beloved) with grace. There are moments of sheer beauty, Dearly Beloved, a wedding poem that tips very close to the abstract but manages to pile on good concrete images that build up and then trail off like a comet’s tail. That this is achieved in three brief stanzas is a bit of skill and surprise.
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I rely on the poet to take me through her journey, and this journey is satisfying. It is rare that I get a chance to review a new work, work by a poet whose poems I know and enjoy; Rarer to be able to wholly recommend the work to others.
~ M.E. Hope
When I sit down and read a book of poetry, I do so hoping for two things. First, I want to be moved. I want the poet to trick me into thinking they are talking directly to or about my experiences and my world. The natural progression of that is—or should be—to make me think carefully about those experiences and the world in which I live. On the first read, I never want to be thinking about the literary devices and techniques the poet has used, and while I don’t want to be reaching for a dictionary, I also don’t want to be able to guess the next word of every line. You could say that I have high expectations. After three years of reading Christine Klocek-Lim’s work, I always know that she’ll meet or exceed them. Her chapbook How to photograph the heart from The Lives You Touch Publications is no exception.
On the surface, this is a book about relationships, a relatively common theme in poetry. However, this book stands out because the relationships are approached in new and interesting ways.
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[I]n “Learning to Speak American,” Klocek-Lim notes that “We studied friendship for a year/before he described his escape from Poland.” The poem as a whole studies friendship through the catalyst of language while also adding a touch of social commentary, and “Twenty-year love poem” is one part love poem, two parts discussion of socioeconomics. Poems like these show the reader that they are not reading a book about relationships. They are reading a book about the form that life takes after being molded by those relationships, an altogether different theme from poetry-as-usual.
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Klocek-Lim reminds me of an existence shared, forever “unraveling months too early.”
“Ms. Klocek-Lim’s poetry can be disconcerting in that one does not always know to whom, or about whom, she is writing. However, one can cruise through this book and enjoy it, savor its frequent pleasures learn a few things about writing poetry along the way.”
~ Zvi A. Sesling, reviewed for the Boston Area Small Press and Poetry Scene, read the full review here.
“This is the second poem I’ve posted here of the poetry of Christine Klocek-Lim. Both are from a chapbook collection, How to Photograph the Heart. I like these poems. They’re at the same time direct and nuanced. Her words are concise and lush, again at once. Her voice is clear. Her poems are grounded. To find out for yourself how full a little chapbook can be: just go here.”
~ Jim Culleny, reviewed for 3 Quarks Daily.
I have just today become
at peace beneath the twilight sky.
The moon hung like silence
as I dragged garbage
down the hill and I thought
it would rain. All day it should
have rained in the grey cloud-light.
I refused to leave the house
while you mowed the lawn
until I realized
the week’s junk would
have to go despite the weather.
I went out and crouched
in the driveway. I counted
stones and locusts.
I looked for leaves
and the occasional
I thought of you,
how it’s been seventeen years
since we slept on a narrow bed.
When the cicadas hatched
I spent hours avoiding
but this year I examined
their red eyes,
their transparent wings
etched with veins and purpose
until they laid their eggs
and died. Now the moon
hangs like wisdom
above our garbage at the curb.
And I’ve counted all the leaves
while you nap inside,
unaware of the importance
of bugs, how much depends
on seventeen years of silence.