Tide Pool of Words: Prose and Poetry from a Beach Chair Storyteller by Robert A. Cozzi is a collection of poetic musings with a general theme of the seashore and the ocean. Decorated with simple seashell designs, each poem or prose piece talks romantically about days at the seaside with loved ones.
Cozzi uses a simple and effective style, concentrating on various ideas related to the core theme, from quiet times on the shore to the occasional terror of nature’s wrath. He does this in a succinct way, with short pieces that frequently settle into a normal meter or tempered prose, with a particular penchant for describing emotions and scenery.
While the general tone of the collection is light, even airy, there are more somber and even dark pieces too. There is a recurrent subject of lost love and yearning. Further, one of the most unusual and outstanding poems in the collection, titled “Fairy Tale,” uses more expansive, and somewhat mysterious, prose, as the author tells the story of someone fondly remembered and sincerely yearned for:
From here I can almost make myself
believe his world is a fairy tale that I
am reading about in a book. The
adjectives and verbs are what make me
ache and not anything real or tangible
that I will ever get my hands on.
If it were true, if this were a vividly
inspiring novel, then I would be
content to curl up with my favorite
book each night and pretend he is real.
But he is real.
Other pieces talk of more visceral sadness and fear, with one poem titled “Jersey Strong” in particular mentioning “Sandy” – potentially alluding to the eponymous hurricane – as the author hopes for an unnamed loved one to be safe from the threat of the storm. It’s this mixture of the mysterious, the reverent, and the emotional that make this collection effective. Even with the different focus for certain poems, there is no doubt that these are poems by the same writer, as they all convey a similar tenderness and fluidity with language.
Intriguingly, Cozzi brings his poetry into modern times, marking it with iPods and Pat Benatar songs, but by no means making it dated. Frequently, New Jersey is mentioned, a beloved place in his life. Stephen King says about writing poetry that it should make sense, and be accessible to those reading it. That’s certainly the case here – these aren’t challenging poems, for the most part, but that’s part of their charm, as the book is so often about simple pleasures.
Together with that central theme, and the author’s wild heart, the book’s charm shines through. The collection’s joy is in sharing that ubiquitous love of simple pleasures, and that all-too-familiar pain of their absence. Even with its darker touches, the collection remains a serene read. It’s hard to imagine a reader ill-suited to it, even if some more versed poetry readers may catch glimpses of some real heartache and yearn for a little more complex exploration.
Overall, Tide Pool of Words is an altogether promising volume of work, especially for those familiar with the shore he writes of with such reverence. Poetry lovers will find it worth dipping into for a reminder of days at the beach.
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