Woman Strong

Poetry - General
108 Pages
Reviewed on 05/05/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Shannon Winings for Readers' Favorite

Woman Strong by Anna Casamento Arrigo is a collection of poems that address many questions with the main one asking what it means to be a woman. Today, being a woman is fraught with abuses, lack of control, and many barriers despite achieving basic freedoms like voting. All of this and more is captured in Woman Strong. Anna Casamento Arrigo also captures the strength, vulnerability, happiness, and love that comes with so many life experiences. Each poem varies and allows the reader a brief view of a life event like birth, divorce, and death. Interspersed with photographs and art of Heydi Quezada, this collection of poems shows readers many of the nuances of being a woman in such a beautiful way that tears came to my eyes numerous times.

As an avid reader, I like to read a variety of genres and I have a special spot for remarkable poetry. This collection was one of those. The author varies the length of poems and kept me reading with this tactic. This wasn’t the only aspect that kept me going though. The author evokes many emotions with each poem and I may have even shed a tear at the end. Some poems are able to capture the nuance of a moment which made my mind bloom with dozens of images. Perhaps the greatest part for me was that the author managed to expertly portray the life stages of a woman and show the raw strength that accompanies them. Simply put, Woman Strong by Anna Casamento Arrigo was breathtaking.

Rabia Tanveer

Woman Strong by Anna Casamento Arrigo is an ode to women of all backgrounds. This is a collection of 50+ poems that gives a glimpse into the lives of women who live through hell and make it back to the surface, bloody and raw, but alive. What makes a woman a woman? The author answers these questions with poems that are four lines short or poems that span over pages. From talking about love, independence and even rising above abuse, the poems give a real glimpse in the daily life of women. The author talks about the real-life issues and emotions women battle every day yet they always power through and make the best of the situation. A woman has many faces; she is a daughter, a sister, a friend, a mother and a lover. This collection talks about all of them and takes readers on a journey where they experience the life of a woman in its humblest and most real form.

The poems are so simple yet they hold so much weight. Some poems are so heavy with emotions that I had to pause to catch my breath and then there were some poems that had me smiling instantly. Every poem holds something special and talks about it with unfiltered emotions. The pictures were a great touch and set the mood for the poems to come. For example, I loved how “Love is-” was simplistically beautiful, and “Woman Strong II” filled me with the feeling of strength. “The Desert Boot” surprised me with its depth, “The Unknown Friend” made me feel nostalgic, “I Fight Dragons” made me feel like a warrior and “My Baby’s Breath” made me feel so happy. There are so many other poems in Woman Strong by Anna Casamento Arrigo that spoke to me on a personal level and empowered me. It is hard for me to pick just one poem as my favorite. This is a brilliant collection that will be immensely enjoyed!

Jamie Michele

Woman Strong by Anna Casamento Arrigo is a compilation of poetry, photography, and artwork that showcases the resilience of womanhood. Arrigo pens the poems in free verse, with varied rhythm and meters, frequently within even the same stanza—although the fluidity of the latter is beautifully punctuated with distinct poetic diction, similar to an ode. An example of this is in Arrigo's poem Escaping, where she begins with,
“Hold me closer
Weave caustically
In need
Sprinkled throughout are photographs, primarily of model Heydi Quezada, in a variety of poses that range from soft lounging to bodybuilding. These are surrounded by a light form of ekphrastic poetry, with either the photo reflecting the poem or vice versa. The poem Just Ice is a ballad told as a story but still in free verse. The compilation closes with an assortment of quotable epigrams; sound bites that reflect expressions of tolerance, freedom, and peace.

Poetry can be tricky to review as it is so incredibly personal and there aren't any hard and fast rules to it, which makes it wholly subjective. There were definitely poems within Anna Casamento Arrigo's anthology that leaped out at me in Woman Strong. The most poignant to me is The Desert Boot, an allegory that takes its reader through the Sahara with vivid detail and some of the best use of metaphors I've seen. There were a few times when lines went to a place that felt a little clichéd, but Arrigo does such a spectacular job in capturing the many layers of being a woman that it doesn't detract. I loved this book and the way it is pulled together and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in thought-provoking work on the female soul.