In Handful of Memories, Robert A. Cozzi continues his exploration of themes that frequent his work, particularly in regards to romantic, platonic, and familial love, about which he is a sincere and passionate writer. The book gathers together both poetry and prose from the period between the release of his first collection, Tide Pool of Words, and his most recent collection, Blanket of Hearts, making for an ambitious and affecting trilogy.
As with his other collections, Cozzi demonstrates his talent through a simple poetic style with short, sweet lines and sentences with the intention of evoking emotion through imagery and sharply-delivered musings. Cozzi has a penchant for light subjects and heavy emotions, contrasting some Wordsworth-esque pieces centered on the joys of love and the enjoyment of nature with harsher pieces on the pain of loss – moreso, perhaps, than either of his other collections.
Cozzi is an open-hearted writer who shares his life with his audience both on- and off-page with the hopes of connecting and relating through shared experiences, and his readers will easily find that connection here. Moments of heartache are brutally clear and concisely expressed in a way that delves into the core. One particular example comes in “Lost Time”:
I hadn’t noticed until it was too late
The one thing you cannot have no matter how much you wish, pray, or negotiate is lost time.
When it goes… it goes. You have to accept that permanent loss and move along into the unknown… forcibly.
Perhaps there is some solace to think that everyone has his or her empty places where the wind blows through. Time doesn’t care who you are… how rich you are… how attractive… how smart.
The collection isn’t particularly long, making for a breezy read that can be appreciated in pieces or whole-cloth. Each piece is generally quite light and easy to understand, devoid of any of the more overtly complex or alienating features of some poetry. Yet at the same time the book is rich enough as a collection to inspire contemplation and rereading. At times, the collection veers towards sentimentality, and the work is at its best when Cozzi reels this in. The book’s spareness and directness is actually a selling point – Cozzi isn’t after obscurity, but simple points made eloquently.
Even the presentation is rather spare, devoting an entire folio to each piece in a clear print, each decorated only with a single simple footer image; the focus is only on the words, as it should be. However, some images in these footers are unusually re-sized and stretched, which are errors that will hopefully be addressed in any subsequent release.
Cozzi has a considerable and growing following, and it’s plain to see why in Handful of Memories. A touching, heartfelt collection, Cozzi makes his work approachable and accessible to almost anyone. This may not be heavily demanding poetry, but there’s a lot to enjoy about his airy, yet mournful style for the right reader.
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