Always a Blue House
by Lisa Rizzo

Saddle Road Press, 2016. ISBN 978-0-996-90744-6.
Reviewed by Jazz Jaeschke
Posted on 10/06/2016
Review of the Month, October 2016

Poetry; Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Travel/Adventure

The title for this volume of poetry comes from a Marc Chagall painting in which Lisa Rizzo embraces the dual possibilities of an open window, both entry and exit. These poems collectively present a two-way window for the reader—moving inward (intuition) and moving outward (perspective).

"Temperance" took me inward:

Moon's shadow side is blue,
sun side glows orange: I too

am halved...
...Before my bones mingle
with earth, may I temper into one.

"Bee Song" led me outward:

rolling in pollen
till we clothe our legs
in gold
we sigh and hum

...mingle your hands
in blossoms
crabapple spring

These poems share Rizzo's experiences of geography, art, family, love, aging—blending memoir with travelogue. She carries from each experience a connection with place, using poetry as her camera, photographing inner as well as outer specifics. This book is thus a photo album, specific to Rizzo yet inviting the reader to choose what to carry into personal association. From "Spelunking, Oregon Caves":

...I heard water gurgling,
felt my heart beating. I listened
for what had not yet been unearthed.
What I could carry with me.

This book is an appetizer. You will want more of Rizzo's poems. You will cross your fingers that she will keep journeying, offering more poetic portraits.

My recommendation? Carry Rizzo's poems along on your journey, imagining your encounters through poetic lens.

Lisa Rizzo's poetry has appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies in addition to her prior publication, In the Poem an Ocean (Big Table Publishing, 2011). She spent 23 years as a middle school Language Arts teacher and currently works as an instructional coach for teachers. She blogs at Poet Teacher World and can be contacted via her website.

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