How to Love the World: Poems of Gratitude and Hope
By James Crews
(195 pages, poetry, 2021)
How to Love the World is like a warm hug for the soul. This new collection of poetry from the indie imprint Storey Publishing features a few dozen authors, from the well-admired (including U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo and National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman) to some writers that may be new introductions. The book’s format invites us as readers to pause and reflect on what we’ve read, to put our own thoughts into writing, and to cultivate an ongoing practice of contemplation and gratitude – all of which can be a wonderful antidote to life’s daily stressors. I can see this being a great fit for book clubs, faith groups, or other mindfulness-oriented gatherings.
The poems in this book are grouped into thematic sections, each of which includes a “Reflective Pause” and a writing prompt from the editor. For example, in the Grateful for Small Victories section, Crews explores the idea of recognizing life’s everyday triumphs by looking more closely at Danusha Laméris’ poem “Improvement.” He notes that Laméris “urges us to [appreciate]…the fact that the heart carries on ‘in the cathedral of the ribs,’ and that the endlessly busy mind keeps sending out its ‘parade of thoughts.’” Crews then prompts us to write our own reflections around the theme of small victories: “Write your own celebration of…things you managed to accomplish no matter how slight they might seem. Whatever your list, try to capture that same sense of gratitude and joy for things that went well for you.”
This is a book for those who strive to find beauty in the smallest and most unexpected places. I loved the poems that were selected for this collection, and found some of them so gorgeously evocative that I simply sat in silence to savor their wording. There are poems about love, loss, new beginnings, and bittersweet conclusions–all of the things that make up the tapestry of human life. Together, they remind us to slow down, look more closely, and count our blessings, wherever they may arise. Enjoy these short works on their own, stop to reflect and write at the end of each section, or work your way through this book in whatever way suits your reading style – there are no wrong answers! Finally, be sure to savor the beauty of this book as a physical object: with its lovely cover art, textured paper cover, and deckled-edge pages, the impeccable design of this work is just one more thing to love.
Visit Concord Public Library online at concordpubliclibrary.net.
Faithe Miller Lakowicz