Ceremonies of Longing
Living as if you were immortal
Reviewer: The Rebecca Review from Washington State
"Reaching the window in time to see sunrise:
the glowing disk over the gray hill, bisected by
cloud, burning gold, whole for moments, now
disappearing, eaten by gray. After a day of being sad,
unearned grace. A small burst of birds goes over,
Black fireworks on blue, like last night's showers-
rose, green, white on black, -the full moon orange
and low, and over the filed among the trees fireflies'
echoing flash, glitter." ~Morning, the Fifth of July
Sandra Kohler takes her observations of life and weaves them
into a lyrical offering. There is a fluidity of thought and a
splash of honesty in the vivid descriptions. She plays with
words to explore the inner and outer drama of the human
"The Ceremonies of Longing" is divided into three
In nearly all of these poems, Sandra speaks of domestic life.
Her mind dances in a world of words, selecting perfect partners
for her experiences. Poetry becomes a diary of vivid
If you are a worshiper of words, Sandra's poems will make
your mind breathless. Many of the poems are written in the first
person as she honestly takes a look at what it is to be a lover,
a woman, a wife, a mother and a gardener.
While reading this section of poems, sentences will trigger
thoughts about your own existence. Sandra paints stories and
scenes with precision.
In her poems, she speaks of her garden, the change of
seasons, conversations with lovers and friends, the rain,
kissing, birds, her son running through the house, mulberry
trees, rivers, love, doctor's visits, music, sleep, moments of
mourning, dreams, loss, fear, youth, trees, labyrinths and
visiting your previous life.
"The river moves through like a woman
who wants to be anywhere
but in the future, the only place she is sure she is
THE OTHER HOUR
Sandra turns more of her observations to areas outside her
immediate environment. She leaves the safety of home and wanders
out with her son. She begins to question the inner workings of
other's minds. She observes them with an interest and in depth
sense of perception. And yet, she is still in her poems: "I
can't remember when I've been so heavy with outworn
longing." In "Recapitulation" she again speaks of
birds, but here the birds are yellow/blue and seem to represent
her longing to be free with her lover.
"Primary Colors" is stunning. Here she uses colors
to describe a series of events taking place. As each color
appears, the scene changes rapidly in this fast-paced poem
filled with moving images.
Here, Sandra embraces some of the incongruity and irony of
life. Where you are and where you want to be becomes more clear.
She imagines her life is endless and yet her "cells lie,
every atom, false to the core." She speaks of destiny and
being grounded in the real, while she seems to long to let her
thoughts trail off into a sea of clouds. She dreams of living
under purple skies near a thunderous ocean.
"Japanese Landscape" has a rather profound ending
as she watches a butterfly and says: "I won't die
easily." Her image of the orange ghost sun and light
washing the horizon are especially beautiful.
Her concise style shows an appreciation for the simplicity of
experience, while her choice of words shows the seduction of the
complexity of the inner world we live while the outer world
swirls around us in color, sound and texture. Sandra finds
stunning beauty in the ordinary and has been writing since she
was 15. She speaks of pleasure, life, death, longing.
Sandra Kohler's poetry is the recipient of many awards. This
book was the winner of the 2002 AWP (Associated Writing
Programs) Award Series in Poetry. Her poems have also appeared
in a variety of journals and publications. Ms. Kohler has taught
literature and writing courses at levels ranging from elementary
school to adult education.
The longing I felt while reading "Ceremonies of
Longing" was a desire to keep reading every single poem.
You can read this collection of Sandra's poems in a few hours. I
found these poems to be quite calming, although the world around
me came alive in words and colors.
"The Ceremonies of Longing" will transform a part
of your soul into an awakened butterfly. Sandra's poems are an
affirmation of what we know to be true in our souls. We should
enjoy this life as one passing through on our way to eternity.
Sandra's poems truly do encourage me to live as if I was
immortal. She has the gift of intoxicating the mind with words.
If you love this book, I think you will also
Rain at Midnight
American Poems on CD
with a Spoon
The Most Secret Window
Evocative Fantasy of Phantom Love, February 1, 2007
"There is a certain kind of love
That can seize without surrender.
A love of such violence, so beyond control,
That one cannot withdraw, once stricken."
~ pg. 12
Many novelists and poets create from a mingling of two worlds.
In fact, to be a writer seems to require the merging of
creativity and observations of stark reality. Natalie Vanderbilt
takes this concept a step further in "The Most Secret
Window." Here, two characters intertwine were few meet in
An intellectual game or fate drawing two souls to a romantic
destiny? Natalie Vanderbilt paints in snapshot poems with
startling beauty as a fantasy world jolts into reality and lives
on the page. One minute we are enmeshed in a dramatic story on
the sea and the next we have transcended reality and opened a
door into a world of dreams. In this world of imaginings,
Grayson and Lara meet.
"I have tasted pure desire,
Drunk it deep past any prayer,
Where its hunger consumes like fire
And its pleasure drives me to despair."
~ pg. 216
As a lover of poetry, I read this book with an added sense of
awe and fascination. I love how the story weaves its way through
words and births itself in a series of poems. This book should
interest you if you love poetry, romantic novels or fantasy.
Obsession, humor, lust, impossibility, adventure, longing and
fantasy pleasures all mingle together to create a unique magic.
The story seduces you and leaves you wanting more. This contrast
between an imagined heaven and reality's death is almost too
much for any true romantic to bear. And yet, in this longing
there is undeniable pleasure. If there are any weapons here
(poetry as a weapon), it is longing that twists slowly in your
~The Rebecca Review