I Am the Stars in the Sky: Finding Light in the Darkness is Karen Horsley’s second book of poetry. While her first book, Kaleidoscopic Beauty, included a lot of poems based in nature, this new book focuses on emotions, both positive and challenging. Her own experiences with cancer, and depression, and PTSD are major influences interwoven throughout the book.
The poems are grouped into six sections: fear, despair, isolation, change, peace, and hope. The poems move gradually from darkness towards light, carrying the reader along on the emotional journey. The words chosen are powerful ones, so that even the shortest poems feel very descriptive, and often evoke vivid images.
Karen experiments with different poetic forms, which I must admit I don’t have sufficient poetic knowledge to properly describe. She uses a variety of rhyme schemes, and includes a couple of A to Z poems in which each line begins with the next letter of the alphabet. The poems also take a variety of different visual patterns and shapes.
The poems effectively capture common experiences that many of us with mental illness struggle with. Keep Breathing takes the reader through a panic attack, Solitude explores the feeling of being alone even when there are others around, and Distorted Memory uses the metaphor of a volcano to describe intrusive memories.
There were a few lines that really stood out for me. From the poem Gravity:
“Stormy spirit invites
Dark tides in the mind
Surging, they pitch us
And from Invisible Wounds:
“Tight confines of restrictive swaddling
Concealing emotion, impeding action
Suppression of breath
Suppression of self”
The aptly chosen final poem, after which the book is named, draws together past, present, and future, and gives a great sense of hope and potential. It’s a wonderful note on which to conclude.
This is a moving collection from poetry from a poet who clearly has great things ahead of her.
You can find Karen on her blog Blue Sky Days 365.