A review of A Matter of Selection by Carol Smallwood

Reviewed by Molly Martin

A Matter of Selection
by Carol Smallwood
Poetic Matrix Press
Paperback: 120 pages, March 5, 2018, ISBN-13: 978-0998146980

Carol Smallwood’s A Matter of Selection is a small edition of poetry spanning a broad spectrum of free verse, requiem, rhyme and elegy.

Opening with a foreword offered by Jordan Blum of The Bookends Review, Smallwood sets in motion the idea that we all make ongoing selections; some good, others not, and leaves us with the realization that choices are the grist of our being.
The book is divided into four sections: “Nature,” “Moments in Time,” “The Domestic” and “Speculations”, each providing a different poetic mix.  “Nature” sets the tone for the first segment “The Universe”,  six stanzas focused on finding a good center using the sewing metaphor of cutting up pieces to sew with needle and thread. “Wind in Trees” presents a sketch that comes and goes with the anecdote left to the interpreter.  Finishing up this section is a three stanza piece, “The Big Corn Field”, rich with the poignancy of harvest and the emptiness of the field when the harvester has wrought its fury.
“Moments in Time” offers a 7 stanza Septet beginning with consideration of Routine before meandering through back aches and snow, the limitations of logical atomism, more snow, a mention that humans shed their skins a few cells at a time before ending on a whimsical, thought provoking note that “It’s good we’re not snakes—imagine all those human skins.”
“The Domestic” includes Supermarket Triptych, Hanging Clothes on Clothes Lines, The Car Wash, The Sewing Box, and The Last Doll before coming to a close with a peek through Venetian blind and Capturing the Moon.
“Speculations” provides a jewel “Near the Library Window” for those who enjoy a nice visit to the reading room, while “A Matter of Lines” puts into focus the wait at the local post office where a queue leads to one or the other clerk behind the counter. “Sleeping Beauty” cause us to consider, What would’ve happened if she hadn’t been a beauty? “The Epilogue” offers one more poem for those of us who gaze at the skies in effort to locate dinosaur and ships or puppies chasing butterflies to consider

The sky today was cumulus clouds:
The choice too immense, I chose one
to secure the secret of time and space,
forget spinning on a planet.

Smallwood’s collection of finely honed, detail filled verses spring from the page as though borne on wings to fill the air, the room, the location with perfume for the eyes. I enjoyed reading these verses, some more than once, others a quick passage with scant time to savor the message before rushing on to the next just to see what was there.

Reviewed by: molly martin
20+ years classroom teacher