This is Not a Review: Magellan’s Shadow by Barbara Booth Hemphill

I’m sure you’ve noticed that there’s no nifty book information or synopsis at the top of this post.  There’s a good reason for that absence: this is not a review.  I know you didn’t think I was serious when you read the title of this post, but I most definitely am.

You see, I have the honor of calling Barbara Hemphill my friend.  We go to church together and occasionally roll our eyes at the antics of her husband, Jimmy (the same Jimmy that is always sending me difficult books).  So when Jimmy gave me my copy of this amazing little book, I knew I wouldn’t read it the same way I do books whose authors I don’t know personally.  Not to mention the handwritten note on the title page:

barbara hemphill note

So, this is not a review.  This is how I feel about Barbara’s beautiful poetry:

Magellan’s Shadow is a journey.  The poems take you through stages in life and faith (I am especially fond of the poems about motherhood).  They explore the wonders that may be found in the shadows of our experiences, and the light that awaits on the other side.  And, like life, they take time.  I recommend reading no more than 4 poems at a sitting.  After you read, process the words for a while.  Then start all over again.  I assure you that I will be reading Magellan’s Shadow several more times in the next few months.

I’m not sure I would have the courage to publish poetry like this.  The words seem as if they are her soul laid bare, and I am honored to be reading them.  And, best of all, many of the poems remind me of my mother.  Strangely enough I felt close to her as I read poems such as “A Hysterectomy Prayer” and “Untimely Death.”  I treasure Magellan’s Shadow that much more because all of my mother’s writing is lost to me (a story for another time).  Fortunately, I have another of Barbara’s books waiting for me on my shelves.

GoodReads • Amazon

Magellan’s Shadow is the poetry book for the Read Harder Challenge.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Leila, I am so grateful for your non-review. It is wonderful that you responded by writing about how you feel rather than taking an analytical approach to what I wrote. As you said, those poems were written with an open heart, with absolutely no plan to ever make them public. So I think in order to approach them, you have to be open-hearted in your reading as well. Thank you for reading them that way, and thank you for your kind words. I also am honored to call you a friend.

    1. Leila

      OK, now I’m getting all teary. Thank you.

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