Critical Acclaim for Christina Watkins!
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Sky and Earth / Cielo y Tierra
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From Blue Ink Reviews:
"Christina Watkins’ book of short metaphysical poems might remind readers of nimble, compressed forms such as haiku.
True to its title, Sky and Earth, Cielo y Tierra takes readers on a journey that is grounded in the earthly but offers flashes of the sublime and the transcendent.
In keeping with the bilingual title, the poems are in English on the left-hand pages and in Spanish on the facing pages. This makes for an unhurried progression from poem to poem, with stops to appreciate the beauty of the Spanish and the alchemical art of translation.
Any reader can get a sense of the music of the lines in Spanish and how they offer a rhythm different from the more compressed English sounds and syntax.
In the poem “Towards Phoenix,” the last stanza personifies the sky and the earth in three lines: “You may see sky’s starry cover as / brown earth’s night-dressed lover. / You may learn to love the west.” Here, “cover” and “lover” make a perfect rhyme, and “west” makes an interesting slant rhyme with the last word of the previous stanza, “largeness.” The Spanish translation requires five lines to express what took three in English, exemplified in the contrast between the taut “starry cover” and the soft waves of the Spanish: “sembrado de estrellas.”
Another poem, “Spaces,” is brief but captures much of what is charming about this collection, with its easy blend of the embodied and the ecstatic: “Sometimes when I am dancing / I realize there are spaces beneath my shoes / sometimes pink, sometimes blue / sometimes yellow or green spaces. / This happens when I have forgotten / there is a floor.”
Sky and Earth, Cielo y Tierra is a graceful collection that may appeal to readers with an appreciation for the rugged openness of the American West, the Spanish language and the sacred feminine."
- Blue Ink Starred Review
From ForeWord Reviews:
In this small collection of short, lyrical poems in free verse, written in both English and Spanish, Christina Watkins gently opens readers’ eyes to a world that glimmers with the radiance of spirit. Without ever using the words “spiritual” or “religious,” she lifts the veil of reality just enough to allow the otherworldly concepts to slip in unannounced. The two languages stand shoulder to shoulder on adjacent pages, and it is intriguing to observe how, while each presents its subject in a slightly different light, with a different texture and flavor, they touch the heart equally. Written over many years, the poems in Sky and Earth, Cielo Y Tierra form a journey in which the “wisest travelers” are “starlight led.”
Watkins, who has traveled extensively, has had poems published in journals in Canada and the United States. She has also taught and worked as a spiritual director in Canada, the United States, Latin America, and Australia, and she brings spiritual depth and wisdom to her poetry without sacrificing lightheartedness and joy.
The poem “Did You Know?” asks, “Did you know / Mother God is a salsa dancer?”; it has a voluptuous female God swinging her hips because “Her spine loves music.” One can’t help but smile at this glorious, sensual imagery that opens the mind and heart to the notions that the body is good, joy is good, and even God loves a good dance.
“Small Brown-Eyed Boy” is both tender and chilling in its message that everyone is someone’s child or mother, father, or friend, and that the loss of any beloved one, especially to violence, is tragic. On a different part of the emotional spectrum, “Why Bother with the Tango?” is discreetly naughty, with its suggestive description of the dance intended to kindle desire: “the drama of being close yet not speaking / the glide forward and back / the rise and the fall of it / lightening and mending all that has come apart.”
Watkins’ poetry is not mere description of an object, event, or emotion. It doesn’t simply show the flower; it digs deep into the soil where roots grow to nourish the life of the plant. This is poetry that one will want to come back to many times, finding that, with subsequent readings, one’s vision has become more clear and the heart more ample and forgiving.
Christina Watkins has created a powerful and luminous collection of poems that, like a series of small arrows deftly shot, knows how to find the heart.