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Flowers of Shanidar by
Bobby Matherne
A Book of Ideas in Poetry
Published by Good Mountain Press in 1990
Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2002


This review sets two firsts for me. One, this is the first book of poems I have reviewed. Two, it is my own book I'm reviewing. I will let neither of these slow me down, not much anyway. Reading the Flowers of Shanidar in one sitting was a rare pleasure. I got to enjoy the poems as a detached observer might, rather than as the sweaty craftsman, fresh from his labor.

One question going through my mind was: Would the chakra structure of the book show through the poems? Let me explain. The book is divided into five chapters: Rose Mallow (red), Hollyhocks (yellow), Shamrocks (green), Hyacinths (blue), and Violets (purple). These colors map on the colors of the chakras rising from the base of the spine (red), through the crown chakra (purple/violet). I collated the poems into chapters by earmarking each poem for its matching chakra as follows:

Rose Mallow (red/orange root chakra) - Issues of survival, life, death, and sex.

Hollyhocks (yellow solar plexus chakra) - Issues of control, politics, coercion, complementary relationships.

Shamrocks (green heart chakra) - Issues of the heart, love, romance, caring.

Hyacinths (blue throat chakra) - Issues of the throat, talking, philosophies, dogma, teachings.

Violets (violet crown chakra) - Issues of spirituality, God, afterlife, religious experiences.

My answer is, yes; without explanation there appears to me to be a progression through the chakras that pulled me through to the end of the book and gave it a unity of theme amid a prolificacy (and sometimes prolixity) of content.

Thus I can earthily insist with a hearty voice that your spiritual nature will enjoy this collection of poems by a not-yet-famous-on-Mars poet. He promises and delivers "raw poems sans explanation," and I stop here ere I stumble further into that error fraught field of explanation.

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