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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Cat Lady by Mary M. Schmidt

A narrative poem in couplets that rhyme;

You’d hope for something truly sublime.

A tale that shines, like the sun, is golden;

Alas, alack, to mediocrity we’re beholden.

TS Eliot has the upper hand with cats,

Treading on his toes this is inferior, ersatz.

And while the story’s not only about felines

It’s hardly exciting enough to make a beeline

To the bookstore, for a copy all you own

Of this fable overblown.

Unless it’s written with kids in mind

In which case, not much need be refined.

But illustrations would aid its cause,

If readers were to pause, for paws.

Because at present, just eight lines to a page

Does little to assuage

The feeling that it’s rather cheap,

Too easily written and not that deep.

Thought it thinks it is, with tale of love lost

And things that must rhyme at any cost.

You may think my review harsh and unfair:

“Surely there must be some beauty there?”

Well, yes, in places, I shall admit,

It’s fun and lively with occasional wit.

It’s not all bad, it just feels lacking.

Some people might love it, think it’s cracking –

That the old lady in Rome is a real dear,

The message of love lasting forever crystal clear.

But personally I think it’s been done finer,

That this little yarn is just too minor.

I hope you don’t find my review too cutting, too mean

I didn’t intend to make a scene,

Just thought you should know my thoughts on the book

Please, don’t be afraid to take a look.

I’m a poet, as you may have gathered from the above, and so I love poetry. I also have a thing about affairs of the heart, weaving that into my own work, hoping to make it meaningful and accessible to all. Schmidt has taken a more metaphysical turn with her poem. The construction is an old cat lady talking to her charges on the streets of Rome, telling them a tale of adventure to find the lost love of the city’s mayor who is on his deathbed. Her mission, that she gladly accepted, involved tracking down the woman he had to give up many moons ago but still adored and thought of daily. Unrequited love can be mined so deeply in a poet’s hands but this feels false and over planned (oops, done it again!); it’s too much like a children’s book that’s not been given a chance to evolve as such. The presentation is so simple you’re left wanting.

I’m sure other people will see this poem differently and think it a gorgeous, lyrical little piece and fall completely under its spell. If simplicity is your thing, combined with mystical ideas of everlasting adoration all under an umbrella of street kitties, then this is the cat’s meow. If not, you’d probably best give it a miss.

REVIEWER: Kate Spencer

TITLE: Cat Lady

AUTHOR(S): Mary M. Schmidt


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