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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Sage wisdom in numbered poems, beginning with one word, “Transfiguration”, meaning a complete change of form – the form of a poem change from one to fifty. Imagine a series of poems, a collection really, each one using a specific number of words, each poem evolving into a summation of life and faith: “Infinite spirit, spoken word/ word of life, word made flesh…..” And there is potential for many more. The wisdom is in the words, but it is also in the essence of each individual word within the poem and the significance is in the number which dictates how long the poem will be.
Poet Berwick Augustin’s chapbook, Numbered Words, is an intense study of the possibilities of reflections in poetic numbers. This collection of poems, beginning with “1” and ending with “50,” teaches the reader, soothes the reader and restores the reader’s faith in the poet’s simple presentation of a specific number of words for each poem. The use of words is spartan but clear and to the point, ranging in themes from profound, “Commitment/ Words draw the message/ the lips do the honor of delivery,/ but the heart produces the reverence” to writer’s advice, “Well of words is dry./ Difficult to write/ through writer’s block./ Words on a cliff,/ but refuse to fall on paper” to thorough and concise discussions on expertise and faith, “No one’s born an expert./ Learning only comes through failure…” This is a collection that one wants to keep handy, to reread and appreciate the values and importance of the living word… in numbers, of course.