Breath Debt — Poems by Therese L. Broderick

(Page Publishing, 91 pages, $12.95 + 2.50 shipping; order from author, Box 8600, Albany, NY 12208 or Paypal to frank@fsrcoin.com; also purchasable from Amazon (click here) or Barnes & Noble (click here); e-book format will be available soon.)

Note, Therese will appear at Albany Library, 161 Washington Ave, Tues., July 3, 12 noon; light refreshments

I love being able to say my wife is a poet. Now, a lot of people write poems. But that’s not the same as being a poet. For Therese, poetry is her life. She went back to school in her forties and got a master’s degree in it, and she dedicates herself to her craft with total commitment.

She has published numerous poems and a few “chapbooks,” and won awards and prizes; this full-length collection, Breath Debt, is the culmination of years of intensive effort.

Here Therese deeply mines her own personal experience of life. Of course, such sharing enhances our insight into, and feeling for, the human condition. Isn’t that what poetry is (or should be) mainly about?

A powerful presence in the book is her father. Despite color-blindness, he served in WWII, and then — despite color-blindness! — had a career as a commercial artist. He also long suffered from lung disease, and died of it at 61, when Therese was 21. Thus the title, Breath Debt, as his struggles for breath figure in several of the poems. (The term also relates to breathing while singing.)

Therese and I often have conversations about poetics; our perspectives differ; of course mine are those of a layperson while she has devoted herself to studying the subject and developing her own distinctive voice. This is real poetry, in the truest sense of that word. I admit that much is “above my (literary) pay grade.” (That, in poetry, is what’s called a metaphor. I think.) You will not find here chirpy banalities about sunsets and moonrises (though one poem does play cleverly with the orthography of the word “moon”).

But that’s not to say it’s highfalutin. “Death in Yellowstone” delightfully recounts our young daughter’s fascination with a book so titled, during our Yellowstone tour. (A dip in its boiling pools is not recommended.) Another charming poem poignantly recounts her mother’s valiant weekly effort to get three small daughters’ hair washed before church. And one is about her cutting the lawn with scissors. (Therese is an unusual person in many ways.)

Again, lots of people write poems. But not like this. I salute my wife for a tremendous achievement.

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