Review of Sonnets to the Japim Bird

Photo credit: Dos and Bertie Winkel

"Let me be with you.–Pray, beseech the Bird-God.

O say, 'This woman is as myself, God.'"

A beautifully written book of poetry described by the author as a series of poems that “depicts the forbidden love between an Amazonian indigenous woman (a Tupi-Kawahib) and her husband’s guest (a European explorer).” The author writes with vivid phrases and powerful sentiment for the beauty of the Amazon. Images of vibrant plant life and haunting night skies fill her prose. Many of the poems mention different bird species and touch on metaphors for flying, taking flight, and migration. The soul is often highlighted throughout the writing as if it, too, could take flight. The author describes birds mating for life in the same way the narrator wishes to stay with her one true love forever.

Romantic and inspiring, the narrator writes with an empowering sense of self-confidence that readers will respond well to. Even in an enchanting paradise like the Amazon, one can feel pain and loneliness. Still, the Tupi women, ever-feminine and grateful, are hearty warriors. Alluding to a previous mate who took many other wives, the narrator vows unending love to her new lover. She asks herself if she is jealous of her new love’s previous woman, and replies that “We Tupi women” instead honor those women who came before her. The author is clearly skilled in the delicate art of writing sonnets. She follows the strict rules of 14 lines per poem and masters the iambic pentameter. The book, filled with pleasing imagery and rhythms, explores the idea that non-reaction and stillness are sometimes the greatest powers of all.

--reviewed by J. Duffield, the US Review of Books