Sunday, February 6, 2022

Review: The Brain's Lectionary by Elizabeth Pinborough

My friendship with Elizabeth Pinborough began when we first met in a poetry class in our undergraduate college years. Our love of the written word later blossomed into Young Ravens Literary Review, an online venture we have co-edited together for fifteen issues now! I am very pleased to offer my own little review of her recent poetry collection, The Brain’s Lectionary: Psalms and Observations.  

Pinborough takes the reader on a transformative journey through her experience with a traumatic brain injury, and the long road towards healing and a new understanding of herself. She reveals the deep yet delicate anguish of her harsh reality on the raw edge of her opening declaration, “I do not want to look at the beautiful things of the world with damaged eyes” (2). In each poem, she loops the shimmering beads of a broken necklace of dreams and lost expectations into sentences, carefully restructuring the pieces into new and exquisite patterns like “laminated pearl with memory” (45). While acknowledging the bitterness of her body’s impaired capacities, she also urges kindness towards her physical frame in “Today, be gentle,” reminding herself, “She has brought you here, by whatever means necessary” (21). For what cannot be wholly recovered, can still be wondrously reclaimed. As Pinborough meditates in “Perhaps my brain is a star,” life continues to evolve beyond wild borders: “Endless, quaking, scintillating with beingness, light and mind—consciousness—I am cosmos talking to herself” (14).



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