Touch My Head Softly

Poetry - General
46 Pages
Reviewed on 03/22/2022
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Author Biography

Eileen P. Kennedy’s is a binational author with dual citizenship in the US and Ireland. Her Banshees (Flutter Press, 2015) was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2015 and awarded Second Prize from the Wordwrite Book Awards in Poetry. Her second collection, Touch My Head Softly (Finishing Line Press, 2021) was described by Literary Titan as “a collection of emotionally-charged poetry that explores life with observant poems that will appeal to anyone who loves inspired poetry.” She won Second Prize in the Penumbra Haiku Poetry Contest and Honorable Mention from the New England, New York and London Book Festivals, as well as from the Tom Howard/Margaret Reid/Poetry Contest. She lives in Amherst, MA with the ghost of Emily Dickinson. More at

    Book Review

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite

It is never easy to lose someone you love, but to lose them before they even die is beyond unbearable. Eileen’s partner was a brilliant mind, a math professor. With early-onset Alzheimer’s, he faded away quickly, dying at the age of 69. Eileen, a journalist, a writer, a poet, reached out to his parting soul through the written word: narrative, free verse, and epistolatory poetry. Now there’s a new term for poetry: epistolatory. I came across this form last year and I’ve found it fascinating to study the journalistic, letter form of poetic expression.

Eileen P Kennedy’s chapbook, Touch My Head Softly, observes the three stages of her partner’s ailment: before, during, and after. The first two sections begin with a different epistolatory reflection on what transpired during that phase, not just within their own secluded living space, but in the world around them. The first epistolatory, The First Decade of the Twenty-First Century, begins with notations on Harry Potter, Al Gore, George W. Bush, Al Qaeda, what her son did, and the first diagnosis. Different world events intersect the growing trauma at home and, then, “You underwent unsuccessful alternate therapies.” And, the sad finale: “You died of Alzheimer’s.”

If the reader doesn’t have tears in their eyes yet, they soon will. The free verse and sometimes narrative poetry that follows documents the angst and the pain the couple underwent, as one cares for the other, the one with Alzheimer’s, the one who is not always there. And, while the poet writes, “you murmur to yourself/ of the glory of the words/ shimmering on the page.” Prophetic words that shed light through the windows of the soul, the windows that, for an Alzheimer’s patient, are often blank, devoid of thought or emotion. This is a passionate and engaging read, one that will strike a chord with many, as Alzheimer’s, like cancer, has affected most families in one way or another. It’s a powerful tribute to those who have and are suffering and those who care. Stunningly, sublimely beautiful.