Reviewed by Judith Skillman
Lend Me Your Wings
by Lillo Way
Shanti Arts Publishing,
111 pages, ISBN 978-1-951651-79-4, June 2021
In this new collection by the accomplished Lillo Way, the reader is transported from earth to sky and beyond by lyrical and visionary poems. This work pulls against the gravity and mortality of life on planet earth. Within each unique tableau we learn secrets for transcendence: the importance of perspective, light and dark as an extended metaphor for wholeness, and the indomitable energy of music and dance.
From the very first piece—an homage to her grandmother Lillo Dillon, trapeze artist at Barnum & Bailey in the early 20th century—Way’s notes strike the confidence necessary to the bird, human, pilot—whomever would reach those heights required for an aerial view. Of course it is not lost on author or reader that the bird’s eye view includes reaching, grasping, and an inevitable letting go: “It’s about the letting go—his eyes,/your arms,/the trapeze, its song” (from “Flying”, p. 12).
The business of flight is not an easy business. Yet Way renders scene, landscape, and panorama with lush details to engage the reader on their journey: “…reel with me, every human/who’s ever sought/through herb, blossom, bark,/to transcend…” (from “Isolation Consolation,” p. 96). Birds include owls, eagles, gulls, crows, condors, swallows, hummingbirds, great blue herons—and many more. But it is not only the birds who hold the keys to aerial perspective here. There is a grand argument for travel within Way’s collection—for the sheer beauty of surveying foreign ground and naming its contents: “herbs we called weeds, and spring onions…” (from “About a Delta,” p. 47). If travel is not possible, one can travel back in time to childhood.
The title lends force to the book. By changing up Shakespeare’s line, spoken by Mark Antony in Julius Caesar: “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears,” Lillo invites us to see vistas that fulfill even the armchair travel’s wish—to take in the grand sweep of life, which includes the pleasure of simple moments: “They leave the high-wire dance floor in a fugue…” (from Starlets, p. 19).
This collection, with cover art and inside illustrations by Rachel Brumer, is a must-read for whoever would like to enlarge their personal and collective space. Its chords linger long after the last page.
Available from http://www.shantiarts.co/landing_books.html
About the reviewer: Judith Skillman’s poems have appeared in Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, Zyzyyva and elsewhere. She is the author of Came Home to Winter and a ‘how to’: Broken Lines–The Art & Craft of Poetry.