In and Out of Love
by Shelley Thrasher

Sapphire Books Publishing, 2016. ISBN 978-1-943-35373-6.
Reviewed by Jazz Jaeschke
Posted on 04/23/2017

Poetry; Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender

Shelley Thrasher's first volume of poetry chronicles her coming of age and coming out—through poems that are snapshots of her relationships with other women significant to her journey. Threads of sexual identity and desire for connection are intertwined with some lovely nature scenery. All the poems are accessible, direct, and anchored with crisp images.

A few of Thrasher's poems are so void of specifics as to prompt filling in with characters you, the reader, know well; for example: "I just / want to ask you: / what makes you think / you have a right / to all my free time?" Haven't we all wanted to speak this directly to someone?

True to imagist poetry style, these are poems of observation, sharing Thrasher's view. I would have welcomed further depth, baring her emotions in these moments. Yet the observer perspective works well in conveying universal relationship energies, such as these lines from "Silence":

As passion ebbs and pain subsides,
silence covers us like sand.
We struggle to brush off
this grit, but
it settles in cuts not yet healed.
My recommendation? Take these poems as models for creating images with not-so-many words—worth any writer's time, for poetry or prose. This book also provides a glimpse into LGBT sensitivities through the evolving mural of courage to be true to self, and to claim that self without reservation. Easily read in one sitting, this is a tour of the ups and downs of feminine relationships through budding immaturity into stable maturity.

Shelley Thrasher has been an editor of LGBT fiction since 2004, with three published novels. Her 2015 Autumn Spring was a Lambda Literary finalist in the Lesbian Romance category. She began writing poetry in the 1970s, then studied at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado during the 1980s. She holds several degrees, culminating in a Ph.D. from the University of Houston. She retired as full professor from Lamar University in Orange, Texas. She is now a consulting editor with Bold Strokes Books.

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