Friday, January 24, 2014

Review: Hands to Hold for People Trying Not to Cry in Public Places

Hands to Hold for People Trying Not to Cry in Public Places
By SaraGrace Stefan
75 pages
From my shelves

Hands to Hold for People Trying Not to Cry in Public Places

In the interests of all those legal and ethical things, I need to tell you that the author of this book is my sister. In the interest of wanting you to read really good work, I need to tell you to read this book.

Hands To Hold For People Trying Not To Cry in Public Places is a collection of poetry about life, love, and that wretched part of life when you feel like an adult but are treated like a child. The poems vary in topic - broken hearts, hurting friends, the desire to be taken seriously, the need to let out the words that take up residence in our hearts and minds. But each line is strong and broken, gorgeous and precise.

This is the sort of collection where you bargain with yourself to space it out, to take just a poem a day and savor it...but then you end up sitting down and reading it all at once.

I'm going to share one of my favorite poems from the collection here:

I am not a flower
Waiting to grow.
A weak green bud,
Barely strong enough to
Break the dirty surface -
Something becoming prettier and ever more fleeting.

I am a million fists clenching.
A deep inhale.
The final word.
I am the slamming of the door,
The crunch of the snow underfoot.
I am not many but alone I am just enough.

I am not insufficient as I am.
Not some "please excuse our current condition."
Bigger and better things may be on the way,
But that does not mean that the
Current "things" aren't fantastic.
These years of my life are not
The prologue they are the first volume
Vital and necessary to the rest of my story.

I am not a sapling crushed easily underfoot;
I am oak.
Always have been and will always be.
Maybe stronger later, but I have been
Just as strong as I've needed to be
And isn't that what matters?

Do not say certain problems are insignificant,
Because who judges what is important and what is not?
Call the Titanic, tell them it's just an ice cube.
Write to the tigers in the rainforest and tell them
It's just a few trees.
My path might not be the bumpiest but
You sure as hell would not know
If I have been walking on sheaths of silk or
Broken glass.

I am not a dark cloud on the horizon.
I am not a plant that needs to be nurtured
With a tender hand.
I am a sun shower gleaming far away.
I am a forest of intricate roots hidden beneath the soil.
I am not coming.
I am going.

Hands to Hold for People Trying Not to Cry in Public Places is available at Amazon and Lulu.


  1. This is beautiful! I don't read much poetry (read: My favourite poet is John Donne....and that is pretty much all the poetry I read. Except for Shel Silverstein, he's obvioulsy included), but I would definitely pick up a copy of this. It's awesome your sister has written this!

    1. Thanks Elizabeth. John Donne is a great poet. I also enjoy Elizabeth Bishop and Mary Oliver.

      I'm so proud of my sister. This is a great collection! :)

  2. Oak is gorgeous! I completely agree with, "These years of my life are not/ The prologue they are the first volume." It always irritates me when people say that my life will truly begin at the end of my schooling. I'm living my life now.

    1. I agree. Why does society need to compartmentalize life? It all belongs to one person, so it doesn't really matter if you are in high school or college, or married or single, or what decade of your life you are currently inhabiting.