By: Jennifer Sara Widelitz
Published by: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: April 30, 2022
Reviewed by: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: June 12, 2022
Author and visual artist Jennifer Sara Widelitz gives voice and vision to her inner hopes and fears through words both strong and delicate, and emotive drawings in her work Battle Cry.
The poems here are arrayed in five segments, emphasizing the challenges that have arisen gradually from her physical disabilities – autoimmunity and chronic invisible illness – and the effects these have had on her continued determination to explore all life’s possibilities.
“Before” is a grouping that recalls Widelitz’s childhood, her mother, and “the carefree days,” while reminding herself and her reader that “wishbones snap just as easily as hearts” (“Wishbones”). Then comes the “Crash” in which she laments in “Abandoned” that,
“My body feels
like the creaking floors
of an abandoned house…”
A gentler perception of the world she inhabits is conveyed in “Interlude: Nature’s Elixir” as she asks birds to sing her a song and “they always respond with a sonnet” (“Bird Song”). But then comes “Relapse” containing one of the poet’s most poignant cries, which will surely touch the hearts of anyone who, like Widelitz, faces chronic illness:
“Will you stay with me
Until I get better?
And will you still love me
Knowing that I may never?”
This poem is accompanied by one of its creator’s vibrant line drawings, of a small female figure crouching, curled in despair.
Widelitz, who has pursued a career in graphic and film arts, provides her own occasional and revelatory illustrations among the poetic pieces in Battle Cry. She concludes her aggregation with a hopeful stance embedded in the segment’s title: “Resilience.” It celebrates “Hope, Resurrected,” and invites the reader to “embrace the darkness.” Her volume, a debut foray into the realm of wording and wisdom, is dedicated, targeted, to - as she boldly lists at its onset - dreamers, those with broken hearts, optimists, pessimists, wanderers, and “the survivor of the human condition, you.”
Quill says: Widelitz’s approach to this new medium seems destined to find a well-deserved niche among those who, like her, have lived much and deeply, and who boldly anticipate much yet to experience.
For more information on Battle Cry, please visit the author's website at: www.jenniferwidelitz.com/