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Monday, March 24, 2014

Book Review: A House Rejoicing, Poems by Pavel Chichikov

The work of Pavel Chichikov first came to my attention when, as a poetry editor for a Christian e-zine, he kindly accepted some of my poems for publication. Although he no longer does that particular job, he continues to be a proponent of poetry through his books, poetry website, and poetry readings on Catholic Radio International.

As a prolific writer for Christian and secular readers, Pavel covers a wide range of subjects – from war, power, aging, death, and his homeland of Russia to loving, forgiving, and letting go. You can expect to find an eclectic mix of topics in A House Rejoicing, too, with such unexpected subjects as “The Dinosaur Encyclopedia” and “The Fisherman’s Wife,” whose poetic lines plunge us into a sea of parable, myth, and fish tale.

In its quiet opening, however, the title poem invites us to “Enter here” where “any way you take/ Will lead to love, no one can miss” – a place where “Servants padding silently/ To serve the ones who enter thus/ Have larger eyes with which to see.” Besides trusting that these servants “will not wake the sleeping guests,” I see the poet himself as this attentive servant, who serves God, poetry, and traditional forms of rhyme and meter.

We see humor and heartbreak in the poems too. For example, in “Bless The Child,” mulberries have fermented, so “Birds commanding energy/ To feed and satisfy their brood/ Peck the berries happily,/ A little high, a little stewed.” Then on the adjacent page, “My Heart” feels for a sick foal whose “eyes/ Are great moist wounds without surprise,” leaving the poet to wonder, “If I can touch it will it heal? What cure the pity that I feel?”

And, in these diverse poems, death can also be healing. In the poem, “In Which The Dead Are Met,” for example, “I saw the man last night/ Perspective new, resentment gone/ We decided to be friends/ He died ten years ago/ But quarrels end.”

Whether addressing private relationships or political ones, the poems in A House Rejoicing come from many corridors but, ultimately, lead toward redemption where “Only the crucified God alone/ Can bear up the weight of the suffering world/ And carry it bleeding, cross and man.”

© 2014, Mary Sayler, reviewer

A House Rejoicing: Poems, paperback

A House Rejoicing: Poems, Kindle e-book

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