Water and Life
by Adolph Caso
Branden Books

Deep in my psyche,
Having to endure one paroxysm after another,
Each paralyzing every cell of my body,
Leaving my eyes transfixed"

In this collection of poetry, the author combines all the experiences of his life, so much so that it requires two languages to express. With both observations and fond memories, these verses range from the personal opinion to the universally profound observation. Loved ones are fondly remembered with retellings of memorable stories, and musings on nature are paired with striking color photographs that depict the content of the poems. Many of the selections in this book are brief, page-sized poems, though there are some lengthier additions regarding topics such as attractive women and a stray cat that came to live with the author and his wife. Roughly the final third of this volume is written entirely in Italian. These Italian poems are not just translations of the poems contained earlier in the book, but additional work that can be appreciated by a bilingual or Italian-speaking audience.

Combining photography with poetry serves to strengthen the visualization of what is written in this book, but is not so overwhelming as to detract from the writing itself. The author's poetic style is somewhat avant-garde, relying on line breaks and indents to emphasize certain words. Though it may look a little untraditional, it reads exceptionally well and isn't confusing in the least. The included aforementioned Italian poems are another interesting twist, albeit one that requires multiple language proficiencies to truly enjoy. Many of the poems here can be serious, dealing with societal issues or romance and heartbreak, but there is also plenty of lighthearted fare, including a memorable poem regarding the author's fear of diving boards. While not strictly speaking a challenging curation of poetry, it is well-crafted and entertaining to read both for its substance and for its style.

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