Reviewed by Poppy Johnson

Traveling Light highlights poems by Linda Pastan and showcases her talent for creating images for the reader. These poems are based on the sorrow and loss of the author and they describe her feelings as well as her fears. Pastan uses metaphors in her poems and her writing works as a way to accentuate her joy and grief – and also allows her to hide from it.

Many of the poems are about the body as a keeper of an individual’s hope or shame, or a place where a person can interact and react to the physical world. The people in these poems are able to either be made whole again with the gift of life, or are made to fall down, broken and undone – where they pass like a vapor from the earth to unknown areas and parts unseen.

The poetry is comprehensive and reads more like a short story than a collection of separate poem. Some poems describe events in the poet’s life, other poems make the reader more aware of an event in nature such as the beginning of springtime in an area of the country.

I liked the poem “Lilacs” the best because it spoke of Pastan’s mother’s love of lilacs and how her memory of her mother lives on even though she had lost her years before. Many of the poems have Biblical themes and focus on Eve, the Garden of Eden and so on. These poems seem to be part of the author’s interpretation of an Eden lost or found in our hearts.

The poems are arranged in sections relating to various themes: garden, time and weather, clocks and travel, etc. Some themes are juxtaposed to keep the reader off guard, such as a poem about a wedding (a happy theme) within a recent reference to a death in the family (raw grief).

I found the poems interesting but most featured in the book were not of a positive and upbeat nature, but instead favored the depressed natural emotions of loss, grief or regret.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, Poppy decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Linda Pastan. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received