The Woven Flag
by Margaret Fourt Goka
BookVenture Publishing LLC

"…the seam is gone
and the color faded, grayed,
and the texture…soft and fuzzy with age,
after all that wear the weave may last."

In her book the author/poet demonstrates both comfort and familiarity, revealing she is no novice at entertaining an audience. And entertain is exactly what poems written by Goka do best. Her specialty is utilizing word play and riddles in a poetic format that almost beg to be read aloud.

In this 75-page work, the poet provides poignant glimpses into her creative processes. How she writes at her desk—the family table covered with checkered cloth—is told in “The Rose.” Another ‘mini-biography’ is “Lenten Poem” where the would-be author strategizes about the day when she is able to record her “ragged perceptions” with paper, pen, and help from a full pot of tea. Where do her ideas come from? The poet demonstrates how to start with a theme and then let creative juices flow in word associations. For example, homespun was the gray, woven cloth worn by previous generations. In a poem by that name, she contrasts spun grayness with “spun plastics” color-saturated for impulse buyers and with the tangled results of the modern washer after having finished spinning a riot of family colors. Another underlying theme is the passing along of encouragement to those, like herself, who have been experiencing loss due to aging or relocation. The poet bemoans the woods she once loved near a previous home that had to be traded for desert views when moving west. She challenges herself and aging readers to “stand up” and go on, leaving the “temple of the past.” She comforts those who mourn loved ones by advising they only keep a “little pocket/ handkerchief of grief.”

Techniques well-used by the poet are the simile, wordplay, rhyme, and repetition. For example, her similes compare how coffee and tea taste: “coffee…like ground up books,” while green tea on Sunday afternoons is like springtime. The author’s wordplay catches the reader’s attention by switching out expected words with ones that sound similar, such as using “realms” instead of reams (of paper). Rhyme, linked with repetition, suits a poem for children: “The cat…/ Under stairs/ Under boxes, under chairs” and “insides of bags/ …fluttering of rags.” More fun rhymes reminiscent of Dr. Seuss use words such as twitch, witch, jump, and lump.

The section entitled “Riddles” contains ten poems, several mentioned above, that are among the best of Goka’s writings. Other memorable poems are “Kate” whose “quiet center” will develop from childhood into maturity, “Christmas Poem” where the household noise drowns out listening for Christmas, and her “Summer Wish” to enjoy the freedom of a hummingbird. Such variety and expertise indicate this book is not the poet’s first experience with publication. One wonders if wordplay might have even inspired the book title. The woven flag is perhaps a mental leap from flag waving. However, in the dedication and again in the first poem, the author provides insight on the title. A flag can be woven based on anecdotes, locations, whimsy, and, of course, on purpose for others to see. Goka has done an excellent job of flying the woven flags in this book of poems. Readers are welcome to pick up, wave, and share a favorite with others.

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