Roula-Maria Dib's Simply Being, Review by Joan Leotta
Roula-Maria Dib, a teacher of English literature, Jungian scholar, magazine (Indelibile) editor, wife, and mother, presents us with a collection of poems that dance on intellectual heights of religious, mythical, and philosophical imagery while remaining grounded in the simplicity of everyday life. These are words for a journey of soul and mind.
The introduction to the book by Omar Sabbagh, one of Dib’s mentors, says, among other things, “There is a theme in this collection, running through it with evident urgency, which is about the way in which creation and creativity can be caught in the process of their ‘simply being.’”
Dib divides the book in to three approaches to this theme. She begins with ekphrastic poetry, the art of writing to the meaning of a painting. Her first in this series is a Jackson Pollock. Her poem, "Number I," finds order in the chaos of the drips and bits of colour in the Pollock work. Her ability to carve out theme-related meaning in several other paintings follows. Her poetry reaches into the soul of paintings while offering life sustaining images that cause us not only to ponder the painting more deeply, but also to examine in our own lives the cascade of feelings, thought, and emotion provoked by both the painting and her words.
Part II opens with "Ludus" or “a Thousand Poems.” In this poem she muses, “a thousand lyrics you pen and sing to that tune of what I recognize to be my own voice.” In this section she deals with themes of faith, self, family through the lens of the great themes of literature, mythology, the science of order and chaos. One of my favourites in the book is in this section, "Hold My Hand," a poem that explores among other things, her relationship with her own young daughter and how holding the hand of her child fastens her to the present, “the gift of the moment I never want to leave.”
Part III takes us more deeply in the world of religious, faith-based, family, and mythological imagery. She begins the section with a poem called "Godmother" that traipses through the fields of cultural tradition and between the worlds of myth and reality. My favourite is "The Prodigal Daughter," where Dib turns the biblical tale of prodigal son to the distaff side imagining what is inside of the prodigal, “the outer face of the inner soul” and in the end gives us a touchstone meeting between mother and daughter that filled me with personal joy as well as with the satisfaction of having just read a wonderful, uplifting poem.
Dib’s artistry and her ability to draw on the Jungian philosophy of her education, stand on the bedrock of literature and myth, and fly with the insights of religion and personal experience provide a collection that can bring a reader to verbal ecstasy while discovering the very nature of what it means to discover one’s true self and remain grounded in it by “simply being.”
An outstanding book.
Simply Being: Roula-Maria Dib
Chiron Publications (January 15, 2021)
ISBN-10 : 1630519251
ISBN-13 : 978-1630519254
Read our author interview with Roula-Maria Dib, here.
Joan Leotta is a writer and performer who loves art and often finds herself inspired by a work of art as well as what she sees and hears around her. She submits often to The Ekphrastic Review and has been a guest editor for one of the challenges.
Read some of Joan's work in The Ekphrastic Review here.
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