Between the Trees by Kristiana Reed [Book Review]

Between the Trees: Poetry and Prose is the debut poetry collection by Kristiana Reed of My Screaming Twenties and Free Verse Revolution. This is much more than just a collection of verse and prose. Reed has created a vessel for the reader to follow her in on a poetic journey through her life, which is bookended by the poems ‘Between the Trees’ and ‘Beyond the Trees’ (The poem ‘Grown Up’ appears first in the collection, acting as a prologue to the poetic cycle that follows).

Before getting to the title poem, Reed begins with ‘Grown Up’ in which she laments how being a “grown up” involves things she hadn’t imagined as a kid:

I’ll be honest

when I said the words

grown up

aged thirteen

I didn’t see

a tub of ice cream,

crying

and sitting in the dark

listening to the sky

opening.

These lines foreshadow what is to come and masterfully set the stage for the reader. The title poem describes a moment on a train trip when the poet sees her reflection in the window overlay the scenery passing by: a golden meadow filled with sunshine, edged by trees. Between the trees is a shadow, and it is within that shadow that she sees herself:

between the trees

beyond the glass

lining the field of gold;

touching life and yearning

for freedom.

The rest of the book is a poetic description of her metaphorical journey out of that grove of trees, beyond the shadows of the forest. The poems and short prose in this collection tell of a journey through love, loss, and depression. Reed’s poetry is a revealing portrait of a young woman on her journey to find out who she is. The verse written in an easily accessible conversational style in which Reed readily establishes her voice as the reader feels they are eavesdropping on her melancholy thoughts and memories of the past few years. She is vulnerable, though never weak, as she opens her life up on the pages of this book. Many of these poems carry a darkness, one might say the darkness of the shadows between the trees, they convey the heartaches that have occurred and the desire to be free of the pain. The one thing these poems do not contain, however, is despair. The underlying theme of these poems is hope. It marks a journey that begins in shadow, but always looks beyond the current darkness to the light that exists outside the forest.

Kristiana Reed has created a wonderful collection of poetry filled with experiences and feelings all of us have encountered at one time or another in our lives. More importantly, it shows us all that just because we’re under a shadow now doesn’t mean we can’t sunbathe in the meadow later.

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