Title: On the Occasion of a Wedding
Author: Ollie Bowen
I personally like the colors used in the book. The pastel pink and turquoise colors complement each other and make the white font stand out. I struggled to figure out what the imagery is, though. I thought it was a jellyfish, but when I told a friend, she was like, “it looks like a dandelion” – which pretty makes sense too because there are parts of the book that focuses on flowers in the literal and figurative sense. I asked Ollie about it, and somehow, I am right that it is a jellyfish!
“The book cover was loosely inspired by the poem ‘Veil of the Jellyfish’, and is an allusion for the overall poetry collection regarding how eroticism, grace, and pain must all co-exist in marriage. I feel that the vintage scientific illustration, with its ethereal coloration, vividly captures this essential theme of the book.”
On the Occasion of a Wedding is a collection of poetry celebrating what it means to truly love another person. From the soulfully simple to the humorously erotic. From the deeply spiritual to the painfully profound.
I have to be honest; I was reluctant to read this because I was really not in the mood for love and romantic poems. I also can’t grasp the thought of marriage. I am leaning more on the topics of healing oneself, but I really want to read more poetry and be more open in different styles. ON THE OCCASION OF A WEDDING didn’t disappoint. I am so glad I gave it a go! It is healing in a way – through a blooming love.
This book is the perfect blend of poetic and romantic. It’s been so long since I’ve read a poetry book that is poetic (if that makes sense). Some modern poems do not have the appeal of old, classic pieces – they are more of a “quotable quote” for me than an actual poetry. But Ollie still has that charm in her works. Her style is a mixture of rhythmic and metaphoric. I really enjoyed reading the whole thing. It is very creative. Now, onto the details…
The book is divided into four parts.
I. Flores Caelestic (heavenly flowers)
I dwell on a meadow where
the wild tarragon grows, amidst unwanted butterweeds,
and rocky granite outcrops.
Oak leaves fall like blessings all around me.
I press life between the pages of poems,
I brew tea inside the murmur of streams.
This is my favorite section of the book. Heavenly flowers. It sounds so magical and ethereal, and every piece will surely make you feel that way.
When I said it is creatively written, it really is. Every poem here mentions different kinds of flowers: roses, amaranth, hawthorn, butterweeds, and violets, just to name a few. Each masterpiece is not just visually appealing; it also appeals to the senses – fragrance, smell, qualia, and breathe are used sparingly as well.
If I will give this part an element, it will be Earth.
II. Caelo Marique (sky and sea – my everything)
Sunrise weeps for us across dark horizon.
The breeze carries your kiss to me, moistened with
spray, sewing our mouths together, knitting salt into
breath, weaving sand into souls.
Of course, if there is Earth, there is the water element too. I know that the sky can be the air, but I see the sky and the sea like a reflection of each other – in which water can mirror.
This section, for me, represents the longing for love, the union of love, the becoming and unbecoming. It is like how the sky and the sea collide in a beautiful embrace, or the way the waves always come back and kiss the shore – always wanting, always looking for more. A love that flows in unsteady undulation but burns like the stars all the same. It gives a sense of stillness and tranquility of the ocean but also the chaos and the threat of its waters. It gives the glimmer of the stars and the vastness of the universe but also the abyss of the unknown.
III. Amor Insanus (crazy love – preferably naked)
Affairs of the heart shall bring deeply felt joy.
Laugh long, loud, and often.
It is smart to prepare for the unexpected.
The brightest blazes of joy are kindled from the most unlikely sparks.
The fire element. I interpret the poems here as not only the “honeymoon-ish” stage of the marriage but also the most intimate part of the relationship – the burning passion and desire. This part reminds me of Michael Faudet but definitely better.
IV. Pluit et Lucet (it rains and it shines)
I beg you to remember
how flames lick
flames loop our veins
how creation rushes around us
molten and shy and sweet
how in each other’s presence
we are utterly consumed
I beg you to remember
It rains and it shines. It is the “commitment of marriage/love” and I will give the air element here because there are times that you might feel suffocated in love, but there are also times that it can feel like a breath of fresh air. I think this symbolises the free-fall where you feel the wind too strong but freeing nonetheless.
I love how this last section kind of sums up the entire collection.
The wind makes you see how the clouds glide across the horizon. Sometimes, it makes the dark clouds go away – only to bring it toward another part of the Earth. The wind somehow makes the fire go wild instead of taming it.
Seriously, this entire book makes me feel even more poetic and metaphoric. I love how it is written and how it all comes together to create a whole masterpiece.
I hope my words give justice on how great ON THE OCCASION OF A WEDDING is.
Fun fact: ON THE OCCASION OF A WEDDING came to life as a “wedding gift”.
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