A Sword Song for Blood Roses

Poems and Prose

Poetry - Inspirational
75 Pages
Reviewed on 09/22/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Marta Tandori for Readers' Favorite

Eloquence That Feeds the Soul should be the subtitle for A Sword Song for Blood Roses, a poignant offering of poems by Joan Wiley. While relatively short insofar as books go, A Sword Song for Blood Roses definitely packs a huge emotional punch. It’s divided into three sections: Part One – Sorrow; Part Two – Hope; and Part Three – Triumph. Each section has an introduction that is insightful, thoughtful, and eloquent while the poems themselves exemplify the struggles, triumphs, and emotions of the human spirit. Her carefully chosen words are both lyrical and evocative, tantalizing the senses, while the pages are strewn with sketches that leap off the page.

“Evil” – A little bit of evil resides in everyone. Scrape some off with a wicked tongue. Stir up poison and pass the cup. “Wrong” – That old feeling rose inside her again, the one that said she wasn’t enough. The one that squeezed her chest and burned the back of her eyes, reminding her she didn’t matter. She had done nothing to make a difference. “Loneliness” – She was set apart from the ones who jumped in and out of her life, never understanding why they would not stay, dismissing her loyalty and kindness and all she freely gave. Little did she understand it was not her ways that drove them from her side, but the mettle of her nature. “Responsibility” – If you choose to blame others for your circumstances and your failures, neither do you have the power of ownership for your successes, Responsibility has a double edge; and “Valor” – Finding the will to survive the worst life throws at you is a kind of courage not many talk about. To keep going, keep living, when you want to die is the valor of the soul no one will know about you…

Life is an intricately woven tapestry of emotional struggles and triumphs and with A Sword Song for Blood Roses, Wiley speaks to our turmoils and taps into our strengths as human beings. For those who love the power and beauty of words, this is one book of poems that should not be missed.

Sarah Stuart

A Sword Song for Blood Roses: Poems and Prose by Joan Wiley is divided into three parts, Sorrow, Hope, and Triumph. Each opens with a short poem, which is followed by several pages of explanation about the content comprised within it. Scattered throughout are black and white illustrations, whilst the fascinating story behind the cover design is recounted at the end. The numerous poems vary in length from just three lines to a few that run onto two pages, and they are written in freestyle with a rhythm that makes some of them appear to rhyme when that is not the case. All of them deal with strong emotions; Joan Wiley is a strong believer in the power of the human spirit to overcome adversity – to triumph!

Most of the poems in A Sword Song for Blood Roses are titled, but the first isn’t, and it remained my favorite of them all. “Sweet musk carried on a breeze, gentle petals, fluttering like wings spilling in her wake, a velvet cape, sorrows, dying pretty ’round her feet.” A title in Sorrow is “Evil”, but only one hints at religion: “Ballad of the Man from Galilee” from Hope. The title poem with no title secured its place as my favorite. “Hail, the wayward queen, with her sword resting unsheathed and her crown, a woven wreath of blood roses upon her head.” A Sword Song for Blood Roses: Poems and Prose by Joan Wiley is a book with a powerful appeal to women, the self-doubting, and the fighters.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

The Queen of Swords is a powerful image in the deck of Tarot cards. It all has to do with fortune-telling and the classic art of gypsy to read the future, to dig deep into one’s psyche. The Queen of Swords can be both constructive and destructive, the symbolism being that of the turmoil and the power within each of us. Poetry has a similar impact; perhaps one could say all the literary arts dig deep into one’s inner vibe. But, “One thing is for certain, everything we experience affects who we are.”

Joan Wiley’s A Sword Song for Blood Roses: Poems and Prose is a collection of poetry, both free verse and rhyming poems, as well as some essays about who and what we are. Divided into three sections, the poems and essays address three of the most powerful human emotions: sorrow, hope, and triumph. Within each section, the collection of writing searches for comprehension and compares relevant similarities with the world all around us. For example, the section on sorrow looks at different types of grief, loss, lack of self-esteem, fear, evil, betrayal, loneliness, forgiveness and so much more. The section on hope is a powerful one, as the author introduces this section with these profound words: “Hope is the greatest power wielded/ by the hand of a rising queen.”

A couple of poems really stood out for me because of their metaphoric attachments to the visual arts. “Life is an intricate/ tapestry woven with/ luxe threads, melded by/ silvery secrets and/ gold gilded lies.” I like the reference and comparison to weaving and needle art in the poem called “Tapestry”. And poetry becomes a canvas of vibrant colors in the poem, “Kaleidoscope”: “Then tomorrow came/ through a kaleidoscope window,/ and the truth of the world/ shined in the endless prisms/ of color. It was my soul”. The line drawings scattered throughout the book add visual images to contemplate along with the written words. This collection of writing will definitely require multiple studies as the use of metaphors, similes and many poetic associations really make the reader think deeply.

K.C. Finn

A Sword Song for Blood Roses: Poems and Prose is a collection of different poetic works and some prose-style writings by author Joan Wiley. Tackling themes such as the crippling impact of doubt, triumph over adversity, and the damage our hearts and souls may take from blows to our self-esteem, this is a highly relatable and inspiring collection that fully explores some very powerful emotions. Relating to the author’s own feelings, but also expanding to talk about these issues on a wider scale, the work takes its readers on a journey through different stages of facing adversity, all towards a brighter future which showcases the fortitude and strength we have as human beings.

Author Joan Wiley has crafted a beautifully worded collection that is particularly important and poignant at this current time when the need for a reminder of our inner strength is all the more crucial. Aside from the fact that the poetic techniques and imagery are truly excellent in their construction and wordage, there is also keen attention paid to the overall flow and narrative of the book as a whole, which elevates it into a full reading experience rather than a typical coffee table pick-up collection. This means that we can fight our battles alongside Wiley page after page, traveling through the different emotional states as we too learn how to hope and overcome our demons, which is really something to treasure. I would highly recommend A Sword Song for Blood Roses to all poetry fans seeking a real masterpiece of the craft.

Michael Gardner

A Sword Song For Blood Roses by Joan Wiley is a collection of poetry and prose exploring the themes personified by the Queen of Swords tarot card. It’s divided into three parts: sorrow, hope, and triumph. Each explores the range of emotions these states of mind have upon the human condition. At times the verse is visceral and raw; at others, it’s cathartic and uplifting. It takes the reader on a very positive journey as it explores the emotions following loss and grief, and how these seemingly negative life experiences ultimately make us stronger within ourselves. Overall, the collection is very good and I believe it will appeal to a wider range of readers than those who have an affinity for poetry.

Throughout the collection, I particularly enjoyed the diversity in the verse in terms of rhythm, form, and structure. Some pieces come close to haiku in their brevity, packing a solid emotional punch in a few spare lines. Highlights for me were ‘Forgiveness’, ‘Tapestry’, and the untitled stanza at the beginning of part three. Other pieces range from lyrical verse to more structured verse, with barely a rhyming couplet in sight, which shows Joan Wiley is very comfortable with her word choices and arrangements. I particularly appreciated ‘She Is’, ‘What Matters Most’, and ‘Stone Towers’. Beautifully presented inside and out, I should also add A Sword Song For Blood Roses is enhanced with various charcoal illustrations which add further diversity and richness to the reading experience.