Review: Fountain of Confessions by Maggie Mae

I read this book of poetry after seeing Maggie’s request for reviews. I follow her blog, which you can find here.

The first thing I noticed when reading Fountain of Confessions: A Collection of Poetry was that even when I had no idea what the poem was talking about, and couldn’t identify a theme like they taught me to do in high school English, that the rolling quality of the words and the unfamiliar images still made the reading enjoyable. I read several out loud just to hear the quality of the word pairings. Even a second or third reading rarely revealed the message, but phrases like “the bitter spider/falls from love letters that start over” (from “Written in Leftovers”) just have that roll to them that make the poems fun to read aloud.

The second thing was the barrage of images. Things like “I mopped up the puddle of hate on the floor” (from “Butterfly Wings”) and “Ink is raining again” (Caterpillar) sound strange enough to garner a second glance, but I felt like I immediately understood. There were too many others to really list out here, but if nothing else, read this for the images.

I also really liked The Secret Stash section. These seem to be earlier poems (I’m guessing that’s why they are dated when the others are not), and the style is decidedly different. For one thing, the older poems actually play with more conventional poetry shticks like rhyme and repetition. But I could have done without the places—both in the added sections of poems and in the main body—where I couldn’t tell if a grammar mistake or a font change was intentional or accidental. Of course, that’s a general frustration with poetry for me.

My favorite poem was “Painting Words.” The switch-ups of talking about color, sound, taste, and linguistics flowed together seamlessly and created a great atmosphere. “Doctor, Tell Me” also had some fascinating imagery and a sense of chaos and uncertainty that I really enjoyed. That seems weird to say, but for the content of the poem it was perfect.

I wasn’t as big a fan of “Love Letter,” though. Something about the spacing threw me off. The images just weren’t there to justify the haphazard line breaks. With most of the poems, I could see how the free verse was organized so that the line breaks made a flow even in the middle of sentences, but it just didn’t work for me on this one.

Overall, I’d say four stars. The only thing more I could wish from this set would be a clearer idea of the themes of the poems. Often it feels like I should know what’s going on, but I’m missing that vital clue for ultimate clarity.

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