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House of Stars and Flowers on Mars: Love Poems – Book Review

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by Steven G (subscribe)
Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published April 3rd 2021
New poetry from a great poet
Another book by Sakshi Narula! She has been quite prolific with her releases recently, and the more I read, the more I have concluded she is my favourite contemporary poet. I just get lost in her words and find that many of them actually speak to me, that I can relate to some of the emotions she portrays directly and can understand the majority of them.

And so we come to House of Stars and Flowers on Mars by Sakshi Narula (2021).
sakshi, narula, poetry, book

This is yet another magnificent collection. (If you're interested, you can find my reviews of her other books around here somewhere. The first thing, before I hit the actual content is the presentation. Sakshi's books have always been more than just a bunch of words on a page – something I am seeing more and more of in poetry books – but there was something about this one and the way it was presented that really tickled my fancy. The changes in colour, the changes in font, the pictures, all of it.

She even addresses this as a post-script to her introduction:

Okay, the poetry. Like her other books, this is separated into sections. Two this time – 'Part One: Happy Sad' and 'Part Two: Sad Happy'. This is possibly my biggest complaint with the book. I did not feel a huge difference between the two sections. In previous books, there felt like some thematic changes occurred between sections, but here I did not get that impression. I acknowledge that might just be me, but I did find it a little odd. However, that does not take away from the actual poems presented in this.

As per usual, I will present to you fifteen of my favourites and leave you to discover the rest. This was one of the hardest times I have done this. I was half-inclined to go for twenty (or twenty-five) but decided to stick to my guns because I really think you should go out and buy this book and enjoy it for yourself.

'Summer Sun On Orange Peels' equates love with a sense of missing the person with a series of lines that paint an image of a person remarkably well in two stanzas. This is one of the first poems in the book and is a magnificent way to begin.

'Flowers On Mars' is such a beautiful piece. "I am watching you hurt./ Do you hurt like that for me too?" There is hope and yet a sense of sadness here.

'Red Dust And Water Molecules' is an okay poem, but then this line hit me and makes the entire poem work: "They will find you and me, in an old poetry book, in a vintage book store or a quaint library" That is such a stunning image of love to me.

Untitled' (pg. 52) is a short poem, 4 lines long, and I am half-inclined to reproduce the whole thing, but won't. The final line is just a perfect statement of love.

'Growing Old In Photographs' is a pleasant way of describing the way lovers look at one another or at pictures of one another. I just liked this one.

'The Cheesy Love Poem (*Sorry*)' is possibly cheesy and clichιd, but it still speaks well in a language anyone can understand the idea of loving someone. It is probably too intelligent of r a Hallmark greeting card, but I think it would be the sort of poem I would give a loved one to tell them how I feel. This is actually a favourite of mine in the book.

'House Of Stars' is a poem that has an edge to it, as if confronting the lover, but confronting them with the writer's love, as if the recipient was denying it. It is like sometimes love needs to be spelled out. And it works so well.

'Love After Love' was another sad feeling poem, but with a hopeful denouement. The idea that love can be described as infinite – and that grief can be a form of love – is put so well.

'The Death Of A Poet' is a prose poem (and there are a few of those in the book; that's fine – Sakshi actually does it well as it still feels like a poem in its emotive resonance) about the idea of poetry, and the poet, being everlasting. It works really well.

'The Black Dress Walked Up To Me' is about how the world changes when you have your heart broken: "Everyone tells you hearts are red, love is red/ but no one says that heartbreaks are grey…" Sad and yet beautiful.

'Dark Darker Than Black' feels bleak and sad, and yet there is a genuine sense of hope in the final two lines that gives the whole thing a nice sense of closure and future.

'Shirtless' feels like two things to me – a sense of being alone and maybe lonely, but also a sense of being independent and knowing yourself when no others do. There is something about it that almost has a declaration feel about it:
"To know me is a myth.
No one knows me
__no one but I.
There is a build and then the ending comes and it is just a gut punch. So well written.

'Medicines From Songs' is a poem that resonated with me personally. The idea that feeling better can come from music is something I have lived by for well over thirty years now. And I feel the same way the narrator does at the end of the poem as well. Sad, but this is me.

'Falling Apart' can best be summarised by its opening line: "What do we do about the things that stay when people leave?" It is another stark and sad poem and another that is so well written.

'I Am Your Name' is another sad one about loss and the way things change after a relationship ends, and I think it is about how sometimes letting go is really hard.

So, there you are. Yes, there were some poems that did not click with me, and some I did not really understand, but, on the whole, it is yet another stunning collection of poetry. This one is probably not as heavy in emotional impact as her previous books, but it is not any less for that.

It is available from Amazon from early April (2021) as an e-book or paperback; if you want to catch up on any of her books that you've missed, they are also available.

I really do recommend this one.
sakshi, narula, poetry, book

Note: All pictures taken from the book.
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