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Raw in its resistance to suffering—that of loved ones, ultimately, things of the world—Stevens’ poems are stylistic, adrenaline-charged, possessing heart-deep lyrics.
Through subjects such as family, relationships, womanhood, birth, and religion, Naked displays a sense of the omnipresence of what’s important, powered by a gifted use of imagery, turn of phrase, and stays true to its own music.
~ Phillip Shabazz (Flames In The Fire).
Naked is a deeply personal and emotionally sweeping collection of poems. Each one is a meditation, a memorial. Sensual moments. Elegies for the lost.
Profound explorations of the landscapes of the soul. Stevens’ poems sing of family and lovers, of locales seen more clearly in the rearview mirror and of longings laid bare. I was transformed by their reading. Cindy B. Stevens is a tremendous poet with a singular voice.
—John Claude Bemis, Piedmont Laureate and author.
Cindy B. Stevens’ collection Naked reminds me of a passage from Cory Taylor’s book “Dying: A Memoir,” “…how to tolerate the terror of our own impermanence…” Cindy’s poems create the space where love, loss, and memory swirl to find voice. Death is “a suitable place to store” grief, love of brothers, mother, father, and lover. Marbled within the poems is a keen wit, “Lester grieves for me/my sister is too dignified/to let tears soak her peach silk blouse…I need a Bellini.”
The poem “Kind of Girl” proclaims love as “you beg me not to die” reminding me of St. Augustine, “to say I love you is to say I want you to be.” Her poetry conveys a direct connection to the natural world, trees, curtains, a cat’s meow, soft tar highways, as well as angels who watch over the “tail end of the minute.” NAKED is an invitation to reflect seriously on the uneasiness that the here is where there will be no me. In “The Fireball” Stevens writes “I realize I am not your breath/your food or water/but I want to be necessary.” What more could we want from a poet?
—Elon G. Eidenier, author of Sonnets to Eurydice and Draw Flame Catch Fire.
In Naked, Cindy writes about deep human feelings in a unique way. As I was reading her descriptions of her thoughts and feelings. I began re-living my own life experiences that evoked those same emotions in me. Cindy’s descriptions were much more poignant than any words I could come up with. I have never had the experience of someone else’s writing driving me to such introspection. The union of my memories with Cindy’s descriptions was an interesting experience. Very thought-provoking. Profound.
~ Link Page 7/17/18
What we have in Cindy Stevens’ Naked is a pared down, honest look at feelings. Her work spares us the excesses of rhetoric, of romance, of adjectives that soften the focus on reality. Her work is direct without being raw, and emotive without cover of sentimentality.
‘Hell’s Walls’ concludes,
my pain is a five-car pile up
with a semi-trailer truck
jackknifed in front of me
twisted, crushed metal
I rust in my junk yard,
leaving us to contemplate the sudden emptiness of romantic separation, and it’s ache, without a lingering of sentiment.
Another poem, ‘Bald Head Island’, whose title masks the poem’s true theme, speaks of deep loss almost stoically:
I used to be pretty serious
laughter comes easily now
it jokes away tears
my brothers are gone,
concluding with the cold, hard fact of the separation that Death renders.
We know that she hides a final loss beneath a stoic casualness. I see her walking the beach at the cape of Bald Head, perhaps on a chilly morning, hands shoved down into pockets, warming her hands, while her heart struggles to rekindle in the face of a hard chill from which there can be no easy comfort: such is the strength of Cindy Stevens’ poetry.
~ Thom Williams 7/11/18
In Naked, Cindy B. Stevens is a master of the extended metaphor, when she addresses age, nostalgia, religion, and love. In many of her poems she finds home and hope again by traveling through despair and loneliness: “it’s how I fold a T-shirt / I place you in a storage chest / try to smooth out the wrinkles of no goodbye.”
Her poems are from a life boldly lived as she ponders the meaning of shame and sacrifice: “not worthy / I accept the bread anyway / blood rich / a ruby Port thick on my tongue.” While meditating on suffering and survival, and ultimately forgiveness, Stevens gently reaches her readers who may not be able to successfully distill universal themes that are tough to talk about.
~ Alice Osborn, author of Heroes without Capes
CINDY B. STEVENS
Cindy B. Stevens and husband, Richard