A Shared and Sacred Space

A Shared and Sacred Space

Book review by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

“I’ve long been haunted by the dualities of Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas’ poetry: life and death, forgetting and the preservation of memory, resisting death while recognizing its beauty… Implied by the title, these poems are divided into the “shared” and the “sacred,” two large and meaningful parts to the collection. The “shared” poems are written mostly in sonnet form, as if Grellas’ poems are also sharing a form with late traditional poets, and they focus on family stories and heirlooms, implying the shared aspects of family, meaningful relationships and friendships, and of course, art. The second section, the “sacred,” focuses more on personal stories and the more personal takeaways from shared experiences, like how one perceives the family dynamic compared to another. This duality of the public and private proves to be haunting, especially in the poems that celebrate secrecy and memories never shared (until with us, the readers).

“What I’ve discovered after reading A Shared and Sacred Space is how each poem carries with it its own unique duality: its personal and collective power. I read some of these poems on an individual basis and loved them as they stood on their own, but now that I’ve read them as a part of a larger collection, I now better appreciate the larger resonance of these poems and the echoes they form across the collection. From love, motherhood, family heirlooms, and traditions, to religion, ailments, and the forever haunting loss of our furry loved ones, this “labyrinth of humanness unveiled” is a stunning collection of personal, shared, and confessional poetry that we surely all can relate to, and celebrate.

“Grellas lets us take a glimpse into the most treasured and personal aspects of her life, and like an ofrenda, a photo album, a guest list—by the end of the collection, all of us readers are those who have signed the guest book, leaving behind our own small contributions to poetry’s collective memory and taking something of Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas’ with us.”

—McKenzie Lynn Tozan, Lit Shark Magazine

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