Review by Juliette Sebock
"how long do I have
a question I can't answer
a question that howls
a question that travels in a pack"
-from "Feeding the Wolves"
I've written extensively about grief & loss myself, but Shirley Camia's Mercy left me with lofty aspirations—this is the type of collection that I would be absolutely honoured to have my work compared to.
Mercy takes the reader through the loss of the speaker's mother and the process of grief that follows it. While I haven't experienced this first-hand, there was an extra layer of poignancy as I read: my mom was in the hospital at the same time. As I write this, the doctors are discussing discharge options—we were so incredibly lucky and I'm thrilled that we'll have her home soon. But nevertheless, it was a really scary time, and one that made these poems hit home in a whole new way.
Between my own experiences with mourning and the timeliness of my reading, reading Mercy was an emotional experience, and I have no doubt that its similarly powerful for any reader. Whether or not you have a personal grief to draw from (as most readers do), the poems in this collection will make you feel.
At several points, it felt as if I had become the speaker, through their pain and its aftermath. The book description describes this beautifully: "Camia invites readers to keep vigil while she journeys through seasons of bereavement, from the wake to the graveside, and into a year of processing, searching, and healing." You mourn with her through each page.
And just as you move through grief, the reader, too, concludes this book in vigil. This book demands you take a moment as it closes, with a silent prayer. The emotions of everything prior echo in that silence, and lingers long after you've put Mercy back on your shelf.
Order your copy from Turnstone Press!
Juliette Sebock is a Best of the Net-nominated poet and writer and the author of Mistakes Were Made, Micro, How My Cat Saved My Life and Other Poems, and Boleyn, with work forthcoming or appearing in a wide variety of publications. She is the founding editor of Nightingale & Sparrow, runs a lifestyle blog, For the Sake of Good Taste, and is a regular contributor with Marías at Sampaguitas, Royal Rose, Memoir Mixtapes, and The Poetry Question. When she isn't writing (and sometimes when she is), she can be found with a cup of coffee and her cat, Fitz. Juliette can be reached on her website, juliettesebock.com, or across social media @juliettesebock.