The Evenings and the Mornings
by Ilya Sapozhnikov

"But inside of me, a little boy is crying, scarred and lost
Between the cold stone walls of reality."

Sapozhnikov’s poignant collection delivers captivating storytelling and thought-provoking observations through poetry, offering up a comprehensive snapshot of time and how one responds to the inevitability of aging. At its core, the work is an expansive effort to peel back layer after layer of worldly experiences to uncover the unfiltered joy of the human spirit. Fittingly described in one of the opening poems, this peekaboo with time will inevitably be a losing effort; however, the speaker dives into an assortment of complex yet vital concepts including, but not limited to, embracing change, understanding our limitations, dealing with fear, and finding a balance between the outside stimulus and the spirit within.

Sapozhnikov uses pinpoint metaphors and imagery to paint a portrait of the past. Specifically, he portrays life as a memory box where, as one ages, the memory box is opened more and more frequently. In this compilation, the strong memories of Mom are best captured by poems like “3,” in which the speaker’s memory of a “half-peeled red apple” and the “green velvet tablecloth”’ immortalizes the speaker’s childhood. Similarly, Sapozhnikov compares the end of life to a door that parents and grandparents shut behind them and lock with a key, a key that will be found at the end.

Though the compilation has no concrete poetic structure, the poet’s expression of thought and emotion endeavors to encourage being conscious of whether we are being truthful to our inner spirit or hiding that version behind a veil of fear. Amidst the many introspective poems, the poet dwells on history and its impact on him, from the Holocaust and World War II to the death of Stalin. Through a strong command of poetry, Sapozhnikov exquisitely articulates a reality of how one can age gracefully and be fulfilled as the game of peekaboo comes to a close.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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