This debut poetry collection is a breathtaking array of poems, wisdom, reflection, and all that comes in between. The sections are perfectly placed, providing interludes that allow for breath and temporary relief, needed because of the powerful themes, images, word choices. The poems in some conditions apply delight in the power of art to transmute pain through beauty. They observe, question, laugh, and weep. The collection is structured in four untitled sections to enable readers to project their own meanings. Meaning is accessible but sometimes also intentionally layered and ambiguous, urging readers to let the poems "be" and not "mean," as per Archibald MacLeish. Poetic forms, dictated by the idiosyncratic nature of the poems, don't represent all possible forms and don't adhere to standard conventions. The poetic style is modernistic, conventional, and influenced by (and even includes) song lyrics. The poems speak deep, resonant truths and are infused with the poet's experience of music and music therapy, attesting to the power of beauty to transform even the most painful of experiences.
"Mary Rykov's is an exuberant, brave voice that ranges from acerbic wit to tender grief. She has an ear alive to the playfulness inherent in our language, and an eye hungry for vivid detail. The poems in some conditions apply range in their concerns from family and identity to pain and the healthcare system, but throughout there is the consistent thread of Rykov's generous spirit. You'll be glad to get to know it in this book."
--Adam Sol, author of How a Poem Moves
"As a music therapist, researcher, and educator, Mary Rykov wears many hats in her first collection. The most personal poems work best, as Rykov avoids the trap of self-indulgence. Rykov allows "music to force its way out," as in the line from "happy hour moon over miami": slurping the oyster bare--the one only love can shuck and toss back to the sea."
--Ron Charach, author of Prosopagnosia
"At times tender and playful, Mary Rykov weaves threads that delight, surprise, and perplex. Much like music therapy, these poems transform. They demand experiential engagement, invite curiosity, and reward the reader with sunlit sparkles and perpetual change in fluid motion."
--Claire Molyneux, editor of Tales from the Music Therapy Room: Creative Connections
"With words clear-sighted, courageous and precise, pain, death, and beauty coexist here in the honesty and skill of Mary Rykov's art. To quote one of her many potent images, she is "searching the butterfly for the pupa's soul."
--Merlin Homer, Artist