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Verle Jean
Author, Illustrator
Poems from a Gypsy Heart
Verle Jean, author
The author Verle Jean was born and raised in the Slim Buttes region of the Black Hills in South Dakota and was touched by the beauty of the country she grew up in. I know this book "Poems From A Gypsy Heart" will find the Gypsy spirit in us all. The cover and illustrations are done by the author Ms. Verle Jean. She knew from the age of eight years old she would be a poet. This book is a lifetime collection of her works of insightful reflections of God's creations. Please share in a wondrous journey through the thoughts of a truly inspiring author and artist. A personal bible of emotions for everyone about everything one could possibly contemplate.
Reviews
First published in 2012, Jean’s hefty (over 600 pages) collection of gentle, nature-minded observational free verse celebrates, among other topics, silence, seasons, spiders, and how “the flute song of the wind/ blows over the green hills.” Unaddressed in these hundreds of short, accessible poems is the title’s cavalier use of a dated term with a history of use as a slur. That’s certain to turn away some potential readers, though a poem called “The Gypsy,” which centers on the possibility (represented by a seagull) of being someplace unexpected tomorrow, suggests that Jean conceives of the term as referring to a general spirit of adventure and curiosity.

Whatever the case, that spirit powers poems like “A Walk Through a Canyon" which finds Jean both ecstatic and contemplative: “in the long time to come, perhaps/ i will remember this is my footprint/ on the red sand, beneath these monoliths of stone/ frozen by time …” Landscape, weather, and time forever reflect each other in Jean’s imagination, a tendency common in dreamy Midwesterners (Jean hails from North Dakota) who have invested years in watching seasons unfold across those limitless heavens. In the playful “White” snow covers trees and ground “as if the sky had fallen down,” while “I Am” finds her engaging in the age-old pleasure of dreaming along with the clouds, which she strikingly likens to “giant leaves / floating across a pond of sky.”

Pleasing imagery appears throughout the collection (“The bush was buttoned up/ with red berries”), even in poems concerning more human topics, such as a grandmother’s mending basket or fleeting memories of youth. Still, the book’s bulk and abundance can overwhelm, with the strongest and most specific poems outnumbered by slighter ones, variations on established themes, whimsical doggerel, and lines whose power is diminished by familiar imagery or inconsistent archaic phrasing, like “’tis” or “thee.”

Takeaway: A lifetime’s worth of warmly observational poetry, focused on time, nature, and arresting imagery.

Great for fans of: Mary Ryan, Ted Kooser.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A-
Editing: B
Marketing copy: B+

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