Versions of the Self

To celebrate International Women’s Day, I’d like to share this amazing book by Christy Birmingham with you. I highly recommend it to men and women, to people who love to read poetry and to people who have never read poetry. To everyone who has ever been filled with doubts or regrets, love and joy.

The poems found in Versions of the Self resonated with me when I read them, and they’re still resonating. There are so many feelings that can be found here, so many relationships, so many selves.

I loved the poems that celebrated freedom and could at times feel my soul soaring along with the words. Then different poems made me stop and think while bringing me back to Earth.

The poem, “Within a Few Feet,” shows the regrets that hold us back and keep us earthbound, all while freedom is only a few feet away in the form of seagulls tempting the author to fly.

Some poems show the gradual process of healing before being able to move on, then we come to, “Made to Write,” where the writer discovers her purpose and “I Stand Here,” showing her growing confidence with this last stanza: “I stand alive,/Healthy and complete, as/My branches extend into fresh air around me.”

We also see the joy of new love and the fear of that love diminishing or disappearing. Questions and disappointments surface, but then there’s always that chance for freedom and soaring again. “You, Colors, and Realization” shows this perfectly after stating “You were once a masterpiece”:

“Today, your colors fall to a wooden floor,/While I run a paintbrush under the kitchen tap/To clean the bristles and/Paint a new day,/Made of colors that I alone choose.”

Anyone who has ever had doubts while in a relationship, and I’m guessing that’s everyone, will find themselves here. Times of insecurity and despair combine with a blooming confidence and an ecstasy for life, giving the reader an overall feeling of positive energy and tingling inspiration.

We see the friendships we form with different people, how we push each other, help each other, inspire each other, and push each other away.

The theme of freedom floats through the pages, and it’s not always meant as freedom from a particular relationship. There’s a stronger sense of freedom from fear, freedom from anything holding you back from what you’re meant to do.

We see this in “Flight Path” with these lines: “You are more than your drenched feathers…You are meant to fly, I know you can, and/It is the moment when you turn can into will/That I will savor the most.”

With all of these poems and inspiring words, we see the bravery it takes to step forward into each day and the exhilaration that’s felt when we leave our fear behind. Everyone who reads this collection will see different versions of herself or himself, the effects we have on each other, and all the energy that can be felt when we find a way to be true to ourselves.

Happy International Women’s Day – and thank you to Christy for your inspirational poems!

How will you be celebrating International Women’s Day?

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66 thoughts on “Versions of the Self

  1. Reblogged this on Poetic Parfait and commented:
    I am humbled by this review of Versions of the Self. To get this mention from Sheila Hurst on International Women’s Day means a lot to me. I hope everyone takes time today to reflect on ways to improve gender relations. While I use writing to do so, there are many other ways. Every action helps! Happy International Women’s Day xx

  2. Wonderful review, Sheila! Thanks for introducing me to Christy’s poetry. I celebrated the day by going to work. I know, I was supposed to stay home, but the mortgage must be paid. 🙂

  3. Wow. Just, wow. I don’t know Christy’s work, in fact I cross paths with her through my blog, but now I’m all willing to take a closer look. I’m not a poetry lover; in fact, poetry has to carry a very strong and worthy message for me to really appreciate it. And by your review, I sense that here there’s what I’m looking for.
    Thank you very much for this review, it was a very useful read.

    • That’s great and that’s exactly what her poetry is like – strong and worthy. It will make you stop and think and feel. I think people who don’t usually like poetry will love her poems too because they’re so real and down to earth. Thank you – I’m glad you’ll check her poems out – I’m sure you’ll love them!

    • I’ve been thinking I’ll have to read that one now and will revisit this collection too. It’s nice having the poems on the Kindle to read here and there for little bursts of inspiration. It looks like we’ll be getting your snow soon – I’m always hoping for more Snow Days for reading!

    • Thank you – there were so many beautiful poems in this collection that I wanted to quote them all, but I forced myself not to. I’ll just have to keep revisiting the poems instead.

    • Thank you! No matter how busy we are, this is an easy one to add because her poems can be read here and there or whenever there’s time for little bursts of inspiration. I read this collection in between reading novels and loved going to the poems for a break.

  4. This is not only a very good review it compels me to invite ‘Versions of the Self” to be a travelling companion on my next venture. Christy has got a glorious talent for writing. A tremendous post to mark International Women’s Day. May equality be close.

    • Thank you! It would be an amazing traveling companion, especially because you could read a few poems at a time whenever there’s a chance before traveling on. I promise you they’ll put a smile on your face while going on to the next destination.

    • Yes! I’m already thinking of turning to it again. Maybe I’ll look into her other collection first though. Thank you for your review – that was what made me want to read it – and thank you for all the books that you’ve added to my list!

  5. A bit off-topic but… You have the prettiest color scheme going on with your blog. The ocean photo with the dark teal background page combined with the black/blue words on pure white is calming and inviting– and so easy to read. Thank you.

    • Hahah – thank you! I love the blue-green ocean colors. I’ve had that picture up there for forever but it still makes me smile to see my dog wondering at the waves. She’s probably just looking for birds but it seems like she’s contemplating all the big questions in life. 🙂

  6. Christy is such a beautiful soul whose poems and words reach deep.. A wonderful review.. And lovely to hop over here Sheila to your blog.. 🙂 I hope you had a wonderful IWD.. 🙂
    Blessings Sue 🙂

    • Yes she is! I’m glad you enjoy her poetry too. I’m looking forward to reading her other collection now. Thinking about Christy’s poetry turned out to be the perfect way to celebrate IWD. I hope you had fun celebrating the day!

  7. Excellent review for Christy´s book, dear Sheila… thank you so much for sharing. Christy´s book is wonderful, I read it! (…a few times!, LOL)… Best to you! 😀

    • Thanks Aquileana! Yes, I’m going to have to read it again soon because I’m already missing her poems. It’s the kind of collection that you can read over and over again and notice different things each time. I’m glad you love them too!

  8. A beautiful review Sheila and I love how you seem to capture the essence of the book in just a few words. ‘I loved the poems that celebrated freedom and could at times feel my soul soaring along with the words. Then different poems made me stop and think while bringing me back to Earth.’ To my shame I read far too few poetry books but this is one I will try and make time for. Thank you so much for sharing with us. 😀♥️

    • Thanks Annika! I’m sure you’ll love it. There were so many poems that really made me feel as if I’d started flying somehow. I don’t read enough poetry either, but then whenever I do read it I think I should read it more often. It’s great for little bursts of inspiration.

    • It really is and it made me realize I don’t read poetry often enough. It’s a great collection for people who don’t normally read poetry because it connects with you right away and makes you feel so many different emotions. Thinking about Christy’s poetry and women writers turned out to be the perfect way to celebrate the day. Thank you so much for the Twitter share! I’m hoping for a couple more Snow Days for us to read by – it looks like we might get them soon!

    • Thank you! That’s great that you were able to read the entire poems – there were so many lines that I loved, but I had to control myself while quoting or else I would have ended up quoting everything. 🙂

    • I’m sure you’ll love it – it’s wonderful – just like your writing! I hope everything’s going well with you and hope you’ve been able to find the time to write some more!

    • Thank you! Whenever I read great poetry like Christy’s, I tell myself that I should read poetry more often. It can be so inspiring. Happy almost weekend!

  9. A very thorough review, Sheila, and one that makes me want to move Christy’s book much higher up my TBR list! Your quotes from the text make me determined to read it very soon. I just know it will be a wonderful and inspiring collection of poems.

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