RETRO BOOK REVIEW | CLANDESTINE

the reading glass critic's review

CLANDESTINE

4 glasses rating

Although it sometimes struggles to stay consistent within its themes of grief, recovery, faith, and love, Amy Ritchie’s Clandestine: A Classic Book of Poetry features a collection of thoughtful, intimate poems inspired by a painful personal experience.


Grief is one of the most powerful and complex emotions that a person can experience, and everyone who has gone through it is changed forever. In Amy Ritchie’s Clandestine: A Classic Book of Poetry, she struggles with the loss of her beloved father and processes her grief through her passion for the written word.


Her collection of poems is divided into three parts. In part 1, her father dies and she has to come to terms with this great loss. Some of the poems feel extremely personal, like the author is directly communicating with her departed father in a one-sided dialogue. In “Heartache” and “Seeing You Again,” she addresses him directly and expresses how much she misses him. Her sense of loss is palpable when she recounts a beloved childhood experience in “Cooked with Memory,” which offers a glimpse into the daily routine of her family. The poem has a charming whimsicality in how it describes an otherwise ordinary event, and the love she feels for her family members shines through.


As she eventually recovers from her father’s death, her poems take on a lighter, more optimistic tone in part 2. She writes of “Coffee and Cereal” and her longing for a “Garden”, which makes it clear that the darkness which once consumed her after her father’s death has lessened. Finally, in part 3, the author moves on to another phase of her life and finds renewed joy in various little things. Her husband, who has been a constant though not fully defined presence before, takes the spotlight as she expresses her adoration of him in “When I Am with You” and “Vacation.”


Through it all, Ms. Ritchie’s faith in God is examined and shown to be an incredible source of comfort and strength throughout her personal trials. Not all the poems land well in terms of staying true to the themes of the collection, but there are more hits than misses in her work. All in all, her poetry provides an intriguing reflection of one woman’s life as seen through the prism of loss.


Lastly, the poem “State of Mind” has a great line that bears pondering upon: “Does the world truly reveal itself, or are we the illusions dreamed as time slumbers?”

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