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Reviewed by Irene Valentine for Readers' Favorite
More than a collection of poems, Black Forest Dreams by Joseph Kuhn Carey is a travelogue of a poignant journey through Germany. The trip is to introduce the land of their ancestors to his young family. His grandparents and his great-uncle courageously left their wooded home for the distant unknown American continent. Carey’s father's travel adventures with the US Navy and his parents' many great stories fuelled the children's imaginations and kept their German heritage alive. Written in free verse, each poem introduces another perspective, another layer of insight, interweaving history with the present-day observations and experiences of their family holiday. Deliciously crafted words immediately engaged me with “The Black Forest is a dream, a mysterious mingling of woods, paths, roads and streams, where past and present join hands”. In a type of pilgrimage, Carey tries to soak up the essence of his grandfather’s childhood in the little farming towns. His question of how did his grandparents fall in love, “these things that no one knows, but the Black Forest, which only gives me glimpses and glimmers”. Deer Bridges, musing over Leonardo's Madonna, and his reflection on the East and West Berlin border crossing are a few of the many interesting and colorful travel facts. His account of the Red Felt Alpine Hat which remained perched on his 12-year-old son’s head throughout their trip is sure to make you smile as fellow travelers did!
Joseph Kuhn Carey’s “glorious interplay of words, thoughts, and ideas” is a great reason to find yourself a comfortable corner with Black Forest Dreams and get wonderfully lost in imagining times present and past. I felt as if Carey had generously introduced me to his extended family. Initially, I thought this book would be great accompanied by pictures. However, pictures would be limiting. Allowing these words of this '55-poem-journey' to inspire my imagination was more rewarding. I recommend this book to everyone, purely for reading pleasure, or to experience the joy of travel from the comfort of your couch, or to set up a travel itinerary. Or perhaps to inspire you to record your own family holidays and other life experiences which form your life story.