A Review: Poems for Ivan, a Poetry Collection by Sara Adams

In the first poem of Sara Adams’, Poems for Ivan – a nine piece micro-poetry book – the reader is introduced to the poet and her muse.

He’s a Russian engineer,
son of a Chernobyl liquidator.
He’s a tall, emotional man
who doesn’t like to wait,
a young father
who never wants to go home.
(page 1)

At the book’s start, we find our pair at a dinner date. By the third poem Ivan assumes the role of tour guide as he takes the narrator on a somewhat unconventional journey into Kiev’s culture and history.

You don’t pay for a tour, he says
as we walk down the cobblestone path
into caves.
(page 4)

As the poems develop, so does the budding relationship, and over an indistinct lapse of time Adams uses the duo’s dialogue to hide words of advice and wisdom.

what percent of life should I dedicate to what I really want?
Eighty-five, you answer, knife in hand.
The rest you can split amongst family and friends
(page 6)

These poems are expressed in frank terms, but there is plenty of room for reader interpretation. The romance and intrigue are clear but there is an undercurrent of uncertainty throughout.

It is Ivan’s idea to take the bus
that seems to be going in the right direction.

It’s late, but Ivan always has time
for mistakes
(page 7)

Ivan is a complicated character; protective yet drawn to danger as he leads the author – who in turn leads the reader – into unknown territory.

a black, barbed-wire path
linked with sharp objects and
heralded by dog gangs and
men who make their homes in abandoned cars
and want us
to get the fuck out

…We walk for hours, until I realise that
Ivan doesn’t want to get out.
He never wants to go home.
(page 8)

Sara Adams, Poems for IvanThe penultimate poem sees Adams – contrary to Ivan’s wishes – visiting the museum. “…Chernobyl is too interesting. I’m sorry, Ivan, I went.” She confesses, as the set of poems does a full circle and we find our pair back at their original dinner date. Except now, adding to the tensions surrounding unfamiliar ground and new romance are the implications of catastrophic, human error and its ongoing after effects. The ninth and final poem ends in accordance with the book’s style; several aspects are crisp and clear while enough of a suggestive tone is maintained for the reader to draw their own conclusion. Sara Adams is a writer who understands the difference between brevity and being blunt; her poetry is graceful, charming, concise and sharp. Poems for Ivan is a romantic set of poems where a well executed balance of intrigue and risk keep the ever-present, sentimentality in check.



Author: Sara Adams
Publisher: Pork Belly Press


Matthew J. Hall

Matthew J. Hall

An avid reader, writer and reviewer of poetry and short fiction. Author of Blood Pudding Press 2015 chapbook contest winner, Pigeons and Peace Doves and The Human Condition is a Terminal Illness will soon be available through Bareback Press (2017).
Matthew J. Hall
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