Verses

The Harmony, Discourse and Undivided Pursuit of Wholeness

Poetry - General
55 Pages
Reviewed on 07/12/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite

Verses (The Harmony, Discourse and Undivided Pursuit of Wholeness) by Jewel Caston-Mendoza comprises the penned emotions and thoughts of a lover, wife, mother, and most importantly a woman whose life is chronicled in emotive verses. Divided into seven chapters and visualized by Chantece Dayshon Mendoza’s illustrations, the titles themselves reflect the themes in the poems. Once Upon A Time reminisces about past bliss and love. The innocent ‘Wake up, little ones’ instantly reminds me of my childhood, a time when waking up means dealing with another day of school on weekdays, wondering if the parents are willing to let you sleep in on weekends or feeling generous and will take the family out to town. The lines of “There’s a beautiful world \ Out there \ Waiting for you” and “The sun is up \ The moon is tired now \ If we were in the country \ I’d milk the cow” are powerful enough to motivate this non-morning person to seize the day early and not waste another 5 minutes in bed.

From a loving couple to an estranged relationship, Changes/Bare Truths is the downward turn-“Your sideward glance \ Told me more than your spoken word \ Said \ It told me I was \ No longer your queen”. What follows after is the continuous search for love, battling obstacles which leads to self-acceptance and the freeing element of moving on, “Beauty is deeper than the ugliness I see – day by day \ I am beautiful”. Then there’s the “Heartbeat of the Nation”, reflecting on the current political situations and the frustrations on the continuous issues of the people of color in America. All in all, Jewel Caston-Mendoza’s Verses is bluntly personal and honest; it’s for “all the women who have been jaded one time or another”.

Maria Beltran

Verses: The Harmony, Discourse and Undivided Pursuit of Wholeness by Jewel Caston-Mendoza is a book of poetry that largely deals with a woman in her various roles as a career woman, wife, lover, and mother. "White flakes/Tumble from the sky/Landing on my face/And hair/And I think/Why can’t loving me be this carefree?/" goes one poem. Sometimes dreamy, sometimes confrontational but always lyrical, the poems in this book are the voice of a modern woman in the contemporary Western setting. With black and white illustrations, it is a delight to read.

Jewel Caston-Mendoza's Verses is the lyrical voice of every woman of today and as such, in one way or another, it will touch any woman that reads these poems. Using free verse that is rich in imagery and metaphors, Jewel Caston-Mendoza captures the complex feelings that most women feel as they live their daily lives, as she explores her feelings of sadness and happiness, even the numbness. All of her poems display sincerity and some are more blatant than the others, but all of her verses definitely have something to say. "My heartbeat slows down/Legs fall apart/Eager fingers/Find the morning dew/Left by you/" from the poem All Over Me where events are stated explicitly but then there is the morning dew that invades the imagination more than the others. And in the end, it is somehow liberating to be able to say these words which are, after all, essential feelings of being a woman in the real sense of the word.

Gisela Dixon

Verses: The Harmony, Discourse and Undivided Pursuit of Wholeness by Jewel Caston-Mendoza is a poetry collection on the experiences of being a woman in the world. In this book, Jewel borrows from her own experiences of living life as a female in a patriarchal society, and writes poetry that reflects experiences of all women, whether they be as a mother, wife, girlfriend, lover, daughter, a professional woman at her workplace, or just simply being and existing as a female in a male-dominated society, which is true for almost anywhere in the world today. The book is divided into several broad sections such as Once Upon a Time, Death and Destruction, New Beginnings, Turmoil, etc. and each of these contains a few poems. The poems are relatively short and run from a few verses into a few pages long each.

In Verses, I thought Jewel has done a good job of portraying the angst and the inherent difference in treatment and judgment that women receive from society compared to men. A woman is judged according to different and narrower standards and this comes through in the poems. I liked that Jewel has bravely shone the spotlight on an issue that is less talked about and is extremely common—one of consent for sexual intercourse in marriage. Especially in societies where arranged marriages are common, this issue is shockingly condoned and marital rape happens every day. In this era of the #metoo movement where there probably isn’t a single woman who has never experienced sexual molestation or unwanted attention of any kind, this is a powerful poetry collection that talks about these subjects through verse.

Joshua Soule

“And you know I hate to leave it, There’s a beautiful world out there. Waiting for you.” Verses, written by Jewel Caston-Mendoza, is an incredible collection of poetry—simply astounding. Verses, which is dedicated among others to all women who have been jaded at one point in their lives, has the inexplicable power to make women know they are not alone in their day to day challenges. The poems start with a beautiful masterpiece entitled “Wake up, little ones” in which I immediately felt the tender affections of a mother toward her children. Mendoza changes pace and the poems begin to radiate passion, love, and longing. “Your spirit was enormous, Your soul, So angelic, Your life, so purposeful” is one of many quotes from Mendoza’s writing that illustrates the intense, growing passion of the poetry. Verses doesn’t stop there, but rather continues to show some of the darker times and moments. Mendoza asks, “Why does my heart feel so heavy?” as she displays a more troubled collection of poems in the next chapter that beautifully illustrate hurt and pain. Mendoza then takes you on a journey of building strength, healing, passionate desires of love, hope, and even sexuality. Verses comes to an end with poetic verses of motivation and energy that function as a battle cry to the beautiful and strong women who will be reading this work.

As a lover of poetry I was intrigued by Verses, and to say the very least, it did not disappoint. I have never seen such passion in poetry as I found in the work of Jewel Caston-Mendoza. Verses took me on a journey, starting with a gentle and peaceful aura of motherhood, moving through passion, longing, pain, and suffering, and ending with great inspiration. Every woman needs to read Verses! This collection of beautifully written poems covers areas of womanhood that are often times not discussed or written about. Mendoza has accomplished something beautiful and daring that is certain to touch and inspire many. The last line of the book, “You can’t have my peace,” echoes in my mind as I consider the strength and resilience to overcome life’s great challenges. An outstanding read, beautiful work, Jewel Caston-Mendoza!