Philip Dodd's Reviews > Gospel of the Throwaway Daughter: Poems

Gospel of the Throwaway Daughter by Nancy Bevilaqua
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it was amazing
bookshelves: poetry

Ever since I enjoyed reading A Rough Deliverance: Collected Poems 1983-2013 by Nancy Bevilaqua, I have been looking forward to her promised new book of poems. Certainly, I was not disappointed. It was worth the wait, as all good things are, we are told. Gospel of the Throwaway Daughter, her new book, is a fine book of poems indeed. Whereas A Rough Deliverance could be likened to a greatest hits album, it being a selection of poems Nancy Bevilaqua considered to be the best she wrote between the years of 1983 and 2013, her new book, Gospel of the Throwaway Daughter, is more like a concept album, all the poems inside being linked by a theme, so that it seems more like a book, a complete work in itself.
Bravely, in her new book, Nancy Bevilaqua leaves behind the things she knows well, her life in America and modern times, and journeys into the East, and into the past, to what is now known as the Holy Land, two thousand years ago. Cleverly, in her poems, she has created a world, influenced by her reading of the New Testament and the Gnostic Gospels, but one that is very much her own. That the poems read like translations of ancient texts into modern English is a great achievement, I think. It makes the poems seem authentic. The voice that speaks in the verses, quite cleverly, is not that of a modern woman, but one that lived in the Holy Land, long ago. They are about those things that are always there, that will never go, love, truth, hate, death, redemption, prejudice, tyranny, freedom. The voice that speaks in the verses makes the reader aware of the threat of the Roman soldiers, the lions in the courtyard, the leopard on the branch, how bare life was then, closer to the bone, the root of things. In those days, people only knew about the place where they were. Unlike today, knowledge of the world beyond where you lived was confined to traveller's tales and rumour.
With none of the distractions of modern life, people must have concentrated more on what was before them, what they did, who they knew. In her poems, Nancy Bevilaqua captures the mood of that ancient time very well. She is a true poet with her own style and a good ear for words. Her words run deep, like in this quote from a poem called Dawn, Migdal:
"There is, he
no sin, or is it just a lack of love."
Then from Breath there is:
"He said, You are
What you want to become.
Rootless one. Disrobe."
And from Maryam, Yeruwsalem, Dawn, there is:
"We are wrecked here. This has never been our
As all good poems should, her poems draw you back to want to read them again. She set herself a hard task in writing her book and has achieved it very well, I think. Her journey was one worth taking, and the poems she wrote on the way are well worth reading.
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Reading Progress

December 23, 2014 – Started Reading
December 23, 2014 – Shelved
December 23, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
January 11, 2015 – Finished Reading
April 8, 2015 – Shelved as: poetry

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by RK-ïsme (new)

RK-ïsme A wonderful review which well captures the essence of Nancy's writing. I look forward to reading this new collection.

message 2: by RK-ïsme (new)

RK-ïsme A wonderful review which well captures the essence of Nancy's writing. I look forward to reading this new collection.

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