As I flip through the pages of Hope Whitby's Traveling the River: poems, the sunlight is streaming through my window reflecting a perfect rainbow across the pages of the book. And just like that, with "a fist to the heart," Whitby has snaked her way into the river of my heart. With exquisite words and an even more exquisite spirit, Traveling the River is a slow amble through the terrain of the heart of a strong and brave woman. A poet.
I also discovered that Ms. Whitby is my soul sister. In her poems, she fantasizes about meeting Hemingway, one of my favorite authors. She pays homage to my favorite poet in "Reading Neruda On Top of Afton Mountain," and the effect of listening to Nina Simone, my go-to blues singer, is captured to perfection in "Nina Simone, Sing Me My Blues."
I'm in love with Whitby's haiku poems that capture the beauty of the natural world:
no two are alike
swirling sea of March snowflakes
Did I mentioned that daffodils are my totem flower? Another sign that Whitby is a soul sister.
And enthralled with her ability to capture the ordinary, as in "Apartment 1C Haiku":
up for no reason
my chihuahua snores softly
sleepless in RVA
And envious of the way in which she has transformed her pain - physical and spiritual - into an ode to second chances.
"Blessed is the voice that sculpts words," she writes.
"with poetry, I plant perennials of love."
Whitby is a reader and a lover of words. She is nourished and inspired by them. And those who will travel the Nottoway river with this beautiful poet will be equally nourished and inspired by her perennials of love.
Support local artists. Purchase a copy of Traveling the River here