A collection of 40 poems where the poet offers a round trip from childhood to the age of 40. Through the 40 poems, Ritah colours her childhood with her family, school, growing up, travelling, bright and shaded sides of the Seychelles, soul searching and her wishes.
From a pure aesthetic point of view, I thought how each poem was numbered was very quirky. Each poem starts with its title and what number it is in the collection, and the number is made out of a small lizard drawing. Whether that’s two lizards’ side by side for the number 11 or a few curled around each other into different shapes for numbers like 25. I thought that it was cute and an interesting touch.
The poems themselves are super short, only a page or two long. Most of them don’t rhyme so they read like short snapshots of a time in Ritah’s life. The poems cover everything from family to just observations about things seen on the beach. Some are pretty obvious about what they mean while others have more layers to them.
I liked how this collection is bookended by poems about dancing and the joy and freedom of it. The collection starts with “Dance, Mother, Laugh” which sees the narrator imitating her mothers laughter and movements and ends with “I Dance” which has the narrator getting lost in her own dance. It shows while Ritah has grown up, there’s joy to be had and some thing’s in life are happen in a cycle.
The poems I enjoyed the most were “Grandparents” which is basically an ode to grandparents and where they fit in a family, “Woman, I am – Part 1” and “Woman, I am – Part 2”. As the titles suggests these poems work well together and are like two sides of the same coin, the first is about what a woman is told to be and act like and how going against that can hurt her, while the second is about the woman embracing all parts of her, standing up for herself and forging her own path.
40 years: For my 40th Birthday, I pause to share 40 poems then I shall be on my way is an interesting collection of poems and the way they’re framed to give insight to the poets life makes them meaningful.