Raking the Winter Leaves
by Gary Margolis
Bauhan Publishing, 2013
Review by Ameerah Holliday
Gary Margolis is an award winning poet from New England. He has combined four of his poetry collections in order to create Racking the Winter Leaves with Bauhan Publishing, a unique look into Margolis’s life and personality. As you read through this collection you are taken on a journey through his career. The collection begins with his most recent works and concludes with his classic poems.
The title of the collection would lead you to believe that the poems in the collection will be written to reflect elements of the winter season. However, I was very surprised to find that most of the poems reflect the author’s many interests. This came as a shock to me because a lot of the poems served as an insight into Margolis as a person, which sometimes made the poetry hard to connect with. However, some of the more intriguing poems seem to reflect two major elements of the author’s life: love and sports.
“Fishing a Pair of Sunglasses off the Net Behind Home Plate on Patriots’ Day” is one of Margolis’s new poems in the collection. It begins with the lines
“Sometimes the title is the whole
poem. Sometimes a pair of shades
is a foul ball caught in the net”
and this does not necessarily prove to be true in regards to this poem. Although the title of the poem helps paint a picture of the setting for the reader the poem involves far more than the title would have you to believe. Throughout the collection Margolis continuously compares elements of life to sports, and in this poem he discusses the significance of the “country / inside Fenway”. It would seem as though the continuous sports references would make the poems only intriguing to those who enjoy sports, but while reading I found that the references kept the metaphors grounded in familiarity, which allowed Margolis’s personal poems to become universal in their meanings.
Although love plays a role in the poetry presented in this collection it tends to come up in unexpected ways. “To the Nun I Sat Next to in Summer School Class after Failing Biology Lab” is another one of Margolis’s new poems in which he discusses a school boy’s infatuation with the Nun in his classroom.
“You’re beautiful in your habit,
pure black and white. Who wouldn’t
want to make a habit out of you”
This poem although cute on the surface, seems be more about questioning fate and the understanding of the self. It’s sweet in its references to the classroom and religious artifact. Overall this poem emanates love it also allows the reader to find personal meaning within it. With little quirks like “that cross on your belt is crossing me” this poem becomes an instant favorite to those who read it.
Throughout Racking the Winter Leaves we are given glimpses of all the elements of the past that shaped Margolis’s career and we are given a look at what is still being tended to and cultivated within the gardens of his mind. This collection by far is filled with humor, love, and sports which makes it a very universal poetry collection.