IGNITE By Rona Shaffran: A Review

January 24, 2014 Book Reviews , POETRY / FICTION








Val B. Russell


Women and men, conjugated verbs in a physical universe. Each individual striving to express the spiritual experience of coupling, through the rise and fall of the clay footed icons of matrimonial union.  One after another, each  is toppled until we are left with only truth in the ashes of our deepest regret and desire. In Ignite (signature Editions 2013) Poet Rona Shaffran has approached the subject of romantic love  as both an objective observer and a passionate but biased participant immersed in the tidal pull of  she, he and they. We are after all, elemental and sensuous creatures, slaves to our biology and emotional needs; a fact this is not lost on this poet or her pen. 

Ignite is written in three parts, each chronicling the stages/seasons of a marriage. Whether this was by accident or design is irrelevant because the linear poetic journey works perfectly here. For any of us who have experienced the roller coaster of complex feelings associated with growth during a love relationship, Ms. Shaffran’s poems will illicit more than a few head nods from both women and men.  Each poem is a translation from the tense language of occasional tearful silence followed by the catharsis of sex and talk before the cycle resumes.

Eroticism and the geography of isolation are ever present, often simultaneously within the same poem such as the final stanzas from the poem Unseen:

like so many other times

my flesh


under your absent stare


My love churns

like a river in winter,

unseen under ice,

although I feel my bridges



A freezing stays

my hand.


In Chimera, the poet likens lovers and the merging of two to a mythical beast and more than any other poem in this volume, Ms. Shaffran’s wit and sensual playfulness come alive in each line. In the fourth and then again in the final three stanzas, there is a cheeky humour poking and prodding us to grin:

Bulging muscled flanks and legs

thrust the hooves down into surrounding lowlands,

straining, but failing to stand upright

in their cage of earth and stone.



up on all fours, unsteady

at first,


he stares at me 







Ms. Shaffran’s writing is clean and insightful, her very personal imagery often painful in its descriptive beauty. The biting but artful observations she makes of the search for self within another are direct and clear.  It is her womanly fingerprint on each page that ensures the reader is never left wondering what precisely this poet is driving at or attempting to say.  Ms. Shaffran  opens doors and windows, pulls back curtains and rolls up blinds fearlessly. This self examination and exposure are the mark of a genuine poet and one that cannot be faked by even the most technically skilled wordsmith.  There are no smoke and mirrors here, but rather trembling hands trying their damnedest to hold the fragile heart of another lest we break our own. There is granite wisdom on every page of this book, a knowledge one can only accrue through the risk of trusting your heart to another.  If there is one book that should be on the gift list for newlyweds, this is it.

Rona Shaffran






Poet Rona Shaffran

To contact Ms. Rona Shaffran regarding live readings you can visit her Website: Rona Shaffran

To purchase a copy of Ignite you can visit the publishers’  website here: Signature Editions



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