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Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 02/2021
  • 9781952326752
  • 88 pages
  • $18.50
Joseph Carey
Author
Black Forest Dreams: A Journey through Germany

Adult; Poetry; (Market)

“Back to The Black Forest, A Journey Through Germany” contains fifty-five travel poems that were written over the past eight years after a moving, meaningful trip the author took to a number of German cities with my wife and (then) ten and twelve-year-old sons, in order to explore his German heritage and visit relatives in the Black Forest, where his grandmother, grandfather, and great uncle (on his mother’s side) were born and worked as farmers until emigrating to America in 1927. The poems present the intriguing sights, sounds and wonders of these German cities as seen from a traveler’s (and father's) eyes and take readers along for an exciting, and insightful journey through Wiesbaden, The Rhine River, Rudesheim, Heidelberg, Baden-Baden, The Black Forest, Seitingen-Oberflacht, Neuschwanstein, Oberammergau, Munich, Rothenburg, Weimar, Dresden, Potsdam and Berlin, while reflecting from time to time on families, children, grandfathers, sons, the long immigrant journey to America, the Berlin Wall, deeply-moving holocaust memorials, Checkpoint Charlie, lederhosen, Grandma Kuhn’s plumcake, hotel pizza, Salvador Dali & Leonardo Da Vinci, entertaining street-crossing light signage, delicious ice cream, Mad King Ludwig and his castles, swimming pools, cuckoo clocks, tasty confectionary treats, small-town churches, soaring cable cars, two-man crosscut saws, and the sheer joy of reuniting with relatives unseen for many years.
Reviews
Highland Park Poetry

Black Forest Dreams:

A Journey Through Germany

Joseph Kuhn Carey

Kelsay Books, 2021

86 Pages

ISBN: 978-1952326752

Review by Terry Loncaric

I have long admired the lyricism of Joseph Kuhn Carey's poetry. I respect the clarity of his writing and the beguiling nature of his narratives. Every poem in Carey's latest collection, Black Forest Dreams: A Journey Through Germany, lives up to the title of transporting the reader with lush, dreamy images and stories of family, heritage, and the rugged landscape of his ancestral homeland. Along the way, we delight with Carey in such palpable memories as watching a ship that sailed "like sugar cubes through molasses" and enjoying a nightfall that crept upon him "like trickles from a half turned-off faucet."

As the Chicago suburban author paints pictures of "a beautiful green landscape" and "deep dark quietude," he presents more than a series of intriguing vacation post cards. He crafts a love letter to a land with many "endless, expanding, serene" layers. He shares the compelling allure of his ancestral homeland in "The Black Forest is a Dream."

A mysterious mingling of woods, paths

roads and streams, where

past and present join hands

and deftly dance dance across

the alluring landscape . . .

He continues to describe, in "The Black Forest is a Dream,'' the images that Germany has planted into his brain and spilled into his poetry. There is an earthy flavor to Carey's memories that sinks into your soul.

. . . until all you hear is a sweet simple folk song

and all you see is a scythe,

a spoon, a motorcycle,

a boy and a girl and

love and hope flickering

in an old black and white movie

on a stucco farmhouse wall. . .

Carey's poems are lovely in their simplicity, yet complex and textured in their narrative development. In "Watching the Scenery," Carey weaves the simplest of details into a compelling story-poem. There is a musicality in Carey's description of the delightful twists and turns of a family bus trip, fueled by his clever use of action verbs. (In its entirety)

Watching the Black Forest scenery

rolling, dancing, flashing by

from the big clean window of a bus,

humming along the autobahn,

curving along back roads,

spinning huge wheels through

little towns with proud churches

and welcoming gasthouses,

each happily content to be small

and part of the swirling surrounding

wooded hills that flow like green rivers

through the dark and light,

thinking about good beer, cuckoo clocks,

and Schwartzwalder Kirschtorte,

a chocolate dessert that can bring

a strong Schwabian lumberjack

to his rugged, calloused knees.

The last four lines, of course, make me salivate as a lover of desserts. Of all the descriptions of desserts I have read, this by far is the funniest.

Carey is clearly a master of juxtaposition. He can introduce humor to deliver an added punch, yet it does not disrupt the flow of his finely-chiseled narratives. The author ponders the ridiculousness of "Lederhosen," for example, without being disrespectful to this odd-looking German garment.

Lederhosen

are so crazy-looking,

they make you laugh,

but then you look closely,

and you can tell they're

beautifully made and

full of ornate, colorful stitching . . .

Black Forest Dreams shares the full depth of Carey's travel adventures, from visiting an open market "as the sun drizzles down like a daytime ice cream sundae delight" to eating pizza and pasta with his wife and children on a rainy day in Wiesbaden, "huddled together like birds in a nest."

Sometimes the poet is at his best when he uses the metaphor of travel to describe the connection of family. He takes a simple utensil, "Grandma's Wooden Spoon," and brings it to life in the animation of his words. The movement of each line paints a picture of Grandma in the kitchen "bustling in her colorful apron."

Grandma's wooden spoon

sits proudly in the drawer,

smooth as silk from years of use,

easy to handle, full of love,

ready to turn again in circles

like the hand of time itself

to make her reappear bustling

here and there in a colorful apron.

Carey takes the reader on a journey through his German heritage that exudes old world charm and human emotion. "Thinking of Germany" pays homage to his ancestors in a soulful, almost haunting way. Carey takes you back in time with his deft storytelling.

Thinking of Germany,

of Black Forest relatives unseen

for forty years,

of the house (still there)

that Grandma Kuhn and

her brother (my godfather) Reinhold grew up in

way down south in tiny Seitingen/Oberflacht,

where farming was a way of life,

and steady muscles were required

for milking the cows and feeding the chickens . . .

In these days of Covid, when travel might not be an option, I love that you can still take a trip to a far-away land in a poet's masterful use of language. In Black Forest Dreams, Joseph Kuhn Carey captures lyrical moments, whimsical adventures, and family discoveries as he explores the rich layers of his German heritage. Carey reveals a landscape that changes with the turn of a bus wheel, from mountains to forests and green rivers. His poems are much more than simple travel narratives. Carey's poems reveal his longings to connect with the soul of his homeland. His poems resonate with the traveler in each of us.

===ABOUT THE REVIEWER: Terry Loncaric, of Hampshire, Illinois, is the author of Crashing in Velvet for Finishing Line Press. Her poems have appeared locally, and nationally, on storefronts, newspapers, and anthologies. She has hosted many poetry events in the Chicago suburbs.

Posted May 1, 2021

Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 02/2021
  • 9781952326752
  • 88 pages
  • $18.50

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