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New and Selected Poems

New and Selected Poems


By: Cherie Burbach
Publisher: Bonjour Publishing
Publication Date: March 2011
ISBN: 978-0983475002
Reviewed by: Eloise Michael
Review Date: May 2011

Cherie Burbach's New and Selected Poems are raw and honest, sometimes painful, and sometimes hopeful. She describes events from her own life with a sense of calm clarity and with understanding gained from analyzing the past rather than burying painful memories. Burbach addresses such universal themes as the desire to look ahead instead of being stuck in the past and the struggle for courage to speak out and to be true to oneself. Burbach begins with “The Difference Now,” (pg. 13) which sets the tone for the collection.  

The Difference Now

The difference now 
is when pushed
I push back.

The difference now 
is when I'm hurt
I'll cry
Why should I hide it?
Or pretend I don't care?
You know you hurt me.
My pretending only helped you,
not me.

The difference now 
is that I'll fight for the life
I want to live
and not the one
you think I should live.

The difference now 
is that I make the definitions 
and throw yours away.

The difference now 
is when I walk in a room
and you guiltily look at each other
and stop talking
I'll wonder who you'll blame
for the problems in your life
after I move on.

The difference now 
is when you're laughing 
behind my back
I realize I must be ahead of you
and I'll keep going.

Burbach arranges her work to reflect a cycle of emotions that will be familiar to readers who have been brave enough to take an honest look at their own lives and to work through difficult emotions. In some ways the entire collection is about “The Difference Now.” Burbach writes confessional poems which give us glimpses of the challenges she has survived and combines these with poems celebrating the new strength and direction she has found.

Readers who have faced similar challenges will know that they are not alone. Burbach writes openly about events and relationships she might prefer not to think about, and it is clear that she gains power over her own life through telling the story. Those who carry difficult memories of their own childhoods and families may find courage to follow Burbach's example and to look honestly at their own past.

Throughout the book, Burbach's tone alternates between self-affirming and angry. The ups and downs throughout the collection mirror the patterns of human emotions. Though she writes about the perspective she has gained on her life, readers will feel the depth of pain that remains with her.

Burbach has found a path forward toward happiness and forgiveness which she wishes to share with her readers. Her hopeful poems and affirmations may remind readers to reconnect with their own optimism. However, the juxtaposition of these poems with others that express anger at a person whom Burbach addresses simply as “you,” reveal that the struggle to move forward and to be optimistic is ongoing.

Readers will be reminded that there are no easy answers. Hope is sometimes hard work, and affirmations are most useful when we don't feel inspired to speak them. Burbach's courage and optimism are inspiring because we have seen the darkness that she is trying to put behind her.

Burbach uses metaphor and sometimes rhyme to temper her raw, insistent tone, and these add another dimension to her work. All of the poems share a cohesive style which is uniquely Burbach's and which ties the collection together.

Quill says: Honest poems about hope and struggle.

For more information on New and Selected Poems, please visit the author's website at:

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