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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Awakening by Michael Trudeau is a supernatural story that chronicles a journey of discovery. The formatting of the book can be best described as narrative poetry, all written in free verse and without the traditional use of iambic pentameter, continued rhyme scheme, or verse meter in general. Instead, Trudeau sometimes employs alternating verse counts in the stanzas of each part, such as the cleverly organized What is in the Dark? and its two-six-two stanza pattern that only varies in a single climactic cluster. Awakening is a battle of consciousness and the narrators find themselves in a forest, not knowing how they got there or why they got there. To understand, they must rely on themselves, their experiences, and two spirits who can arguably be described as unreliable narrators in their own ways and to their own degrees. Ultimately, whether or not the forest is a prison or a sanctuary must be decided.
It takes an immense amount of talent to convey a running story in a linear poem, but Michael Trudeau is able to accomplish this successfully in Awakening. The compilation addresses multiple questions that relate to a life lived, a life left, and even a life lost. These are broken down into independent poems that interconnect and piggyback on the others, with fourteen in total. The questions posed are thought-provoking. My favorite is Where is God? with its lilting verses that reflect the pain of trying to reconcile a God that is supposed to be present but never seems to be when tragedy strikes. I saw similarities between this and the classic poetry anthology The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran; not so much in style but in how both ask for and communicate spiritual wisdom in short form. When Trudeau chooses to use rhyme to punctuate paired verses, it is well done, more than the already high bar set when he does not. This is an excellent collection and highly recommended.