C.E. Amestoy,
Making Millennium
(Heretic House, 1999)

As a student of English, both undergraduate and now at the masters level, I have come across a great deal of poetry that is both exceptionally good and excruciatingly bad. The good stuff is usually in books required for class, though this is not to say that all poems read for class are actually good; some of these people apparently get by on name alone, but I am wandering from my point here. The really bad stuff is usually heard at open mike nights at coffeehouses near campus or at poetry readings for the general public attended by angst-ridden unknown teens who need to be heard. Very rare is the relative unknown who blazes forth with staggering brilliance, and yet C.E. Amestoy is such a one.

She is proclaiming herself an unabashed and unashamed heretic, and no name she would give herself would surprise me. She is a mystic, philosopher, intellectual, pioneer and poet. She finds the divinest sense and senseless divinity in all things both mundane and sublime. Her words sing in the mind, begging to be spoken aloud and dance on the pages with quirky, quixotic font changes that enhance rather than distract the reading. Her subject ranges are wide and wonderful. Her feminist tendencies do not preclude male readers from enjoying her works as she turns her sharp eyed scrutiny on herself as often as she does the society around her. The fact that she is not yet being taught in classes is a mere oversight that I am sure time will remedy.

Here are 80-plus poems, prose poems and mini-essays, conversations with herself, Lucifer, E.E. Cummings, Thomas Aquinas and many others that stir the thought processes and the imagination. They are full of good ideas and advice as seen in this lively snippet from "magic-builders":

When you're taking friends
Be sure to get yourself a few freaks
And artists ... always a good thing
To know a few magic-builders.

But most importantly, these poems sing. They are excellently written and emotionally moving. What a rare combination in the world of poetry today. I cannot recommend her book highly enough for lovers of the written and spoken word. It is magic.

[ by Debbie Gayle Rose ]

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