Rumi to Lesbian Love to Black Erotica | Book Reviews on 11 Volumes of Erotic Poetry

Lesbian Couple Romantic





Erotic Poems

Edited by Peter Washington

This book is a collection of erotic poems from around the world that spans various time periods and locales. It includes such famous erotic poets as Ovid, Octavio Paz, Lord Byron, and John Keats among others. The poems contained in this anthology are sensual and romantic with hints of erotic love which is evident in verses from poems such as “The Quiet Glades of Eden” by Robert Graves and “Three Poems” by Bharthari.

 

Graves writes:

If it should please you, for your own best reasons,
To take me and flog me with a rawhide whip
I might (who knows?) surprisingly accept
This earnest of affection

 

Bharthari writes in one of his poems:

A hundred times they kiss, and then
A thousand times embrace
And stop only to start again;
There’s no tautology in such a case.

 

Many of the poems contain physical imagery with references to the breasts, lips, and eyes that allow the reader to get a sense of the appearance of the lover. Allusions to sex abound without explicit descriptions of sexual intercourse. In this collection, the editor, Peter Washington, has compiled a series of poems that allows the reader to truly feel the complex emotions of romantic relationships. The animalistic nature of sex was explored in some of the poems. This allows the book to serve as an excellent representation of the passion and intimacy of loving relationships.

The main critiques however of this anthology are that the poets are primarily male with very few female poets and that many of the poets are foreign. Even the translators of poems by foreign poets generally were male. There were very few American poets. Peter Washington also did not select many modern poems so some of the references in the poems are not easily understood.

Despite these critiques, this book serves as a good introduction to different poets and may inspire the reading audience to select more works of poetry by these poets. They are poems that can be read alone or to your romantic partner as they are sensual, romantic, and intensely visual so readers could visualize the settings of the poems.

 

 

The Erotic Spirit: An Anthology of Poems of Sensuality, Love, and Longing

Edited by Sam Hamill

This anthology of erotic poems includes poems that as the title alludes to are more in the erotic spirit than being explicitly erotic. These poems are poems that enlighten readers about love and relationships and allow for a greater understanding of the necessities of an enduring and passionate relationship. In this compilation, the editor, Sam Hamill, has organized a collection of poems that are diverse in voice both ethnically and gender-wise. What was interesting was the inclusion of poets that are not as well-known.

However, this does not mean that major poets are not included. Some of the more famous poets in this collection include Ovid, Catullus, Sappho, Ono No Komachi, Rumi, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman. Several poets have numerous poems included in the book which allows the reader to become more familiar with the differences in their writing styles.

What makes this collection stand out are its abundance of poems by Asian poets and the beautiful allusions in these poems to the physical nature of intimacy, the seasons, and the majesties of nature including references to lotus blossoms and moonlight. The poems in this anthology are filled with the complex feelings of love including the sense of yearning for a loved one, despair, and loss. It is also a very cohesive body of poems that is organized by time period so readers can see how authors have depicted passionate relationships throughout the years. This is certainly a poetry collection worth recommending for those who wish to have a great introduction to a wonderful variety of poets.

 

 

The Best American Erotic Poems from 1800 to the Present

Edited by David Lehman

This collection of erotic poems was a well-organized anthology that included a mix of classic and modern American poems including such classic erotic poems as “I Sing the Body Electric” and “Lifting Belly”. The poems were organized by the author’s year of birth which allowed readers to visualize the evolution of romantic poetry from the 19th century to the present. David Lehman, the editor, included such celebrated American poets as Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, E. E. Cummings, and Edna St. Vincent Millay and more obscure poets such as H. Phelps Putnam and Emma Lazarus.

The poems in this anthology were more difficult to understand as many were concrete in nature. This led to the subliminal messages to be not as easily comprehended by the average reader. This is the main critique of this collection. However, despite this, it was interesting to read modern erotic poems that told rich stories.

What was unique about this book was that the poems were much more explicit in nature with some veering on the pornographic. The poems in this book were very romantic and personified aspects of the sexual experience. Lehman also included poems with homosexual sexual relationships which showed the diversity of romantic relationships.

There were many poems by women which allowed readers to have a unique perspective on how gender impacted sexual experiences. Other books reviewed previously did not have such a diverse assemblage of voices. This is a collection of poems worth recommending for those who would enjoy reading modern carnal poems about love, lust, passion, and sexual intimacy.

 

 

Erotique Noire: Black Erotica

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis, Reginald Martin, and Roseann P. Bell

This was a unique collection of erotic poems, stories, and essays by Latin American, and Caribbean-American men and women of African descent. It is a very well-organized collection that was divided into sections according to the subject matter of the writing. It provides lengthy and comprehensive perspectives on the everyday intimate experiences of blacks. Intermingled throughout were insightful academic commentaries that helped the reader to understand more about black erotica, music, and culture.

There was a great diversity of voices in this book including a good balance of male and female authors. The authors reflected on the spiritual aspects of sexual experiences; the effects music had on their sexual experiences; and the beginnings of new sexual relationships among other topics. The poetry in this book was very erotic and explicit with a mix of longer poems and haikus. This was truly a special anthology as the writers were great storytellers who allowed readers to visualize the experiences that were documented within the book.

This was a cohesive body of work that was very carnal and explicit in nature but also sensual and passionate. The writing could be concrete at times and it was interesting to read different interpretations of the sexual experience by the black population. This is certainly a book worth recommending for those who want a close study of the intricacies of black erotica.

 

 

The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems

Ono No Komachi and Izumi Shikibu

This was a well-translated and beautiful collection of ancient Japanese love poems by two court poets that were passionate and full of desire. These short but deep poems were verses that expressed the longing that the poets felt for their lovers. Although the poems were brief, they were very emotional. The verses contained rich imagery that allowed readers to visualize the settings of the poems.

Many of the poems in this book took place at night as the poets reflected on the moonlight and nights spent with their romantic partner. The seasons played a role in several of the poems as many reflected on autumn and leaves falling. The depiction of the changing seasons served as an ode to the passage of time in the course of a relationship. Some poems were mildly erotic and many were very intimate. The painful and bitter nature of romance was explored in some poems.

This collection showed that even long ago, the feelings of love have not changed significantly. These poems contain the same emotional weight of more contemporary love poems. This is truly a collection worth reading for those who wish to read meaningful love poems that have withstood the test of time.

 

 

My Lover is a Woman: Contemporary Lesbian Love Poems

Edited by Leslea Newman

This was an enticing collection of lesbian love poems by modern poets. The poems in this book were organized by author which allowed the reader to read different perspectives on intimacy and the passions of homosexual relationships. These were very personal poems that enlightened readers on who the poet really is in their most private moments. Some poems were mildly erotic in nature.

What was special about this book was the rich storytelling of the poems contained within. The poems contained descriptive imagery and made even the most everyday moments worth savoring. The poets were very accepting of the imperfections of their lovers and reveled in the beauties of the female physique.

What is worth noting is that the poems do discuss prejudice against lesbianism and interracial relationships which are still issues that pervade our current society. This book was published almost twenty years ago so there was even deeper prejudice back then. There is some guilt and shame by the female lovers depicted but also a sense of an undying love that could withstand the hatred and oppression that society had for these types of relationships.

 

 

Rumi: The Book of Love (Poems of Ecstasy and Longing)

Translations and Commentary by Coleman Barks

This was a spiritual body of work that contained poems that were filled with longing and very introspective in nature. The poems were beautifully translated by Coleman Barks and before each section began he insightfully commented on each thematic section and included personal anecdotes on the wisdom obtained from speaking to religious teachers. Rumi’s poems are very abstract and deep with powerful musings on the majesty and beauties of love. They spoke to the healing power of love and the desire and lust that love added to one’s life.

The poems in this book were full of natural metaphors and many Middle Eastern references that were difficult to understand. Despite this critique, Barks was able to compile a wonderful assortment of poems by this great Sufi mystic. The poems were primarily about the lingering presence of love in one’s life and just how incredible a presence it is.

Rumi was a great storyteller and his stories enlighten readers with the wisdom of his life’s experiences. His poems were very passionate and filled with the enjoyment of spiritual and earthly pleasures. This collection is highly recommended for lovers of more soulful poems that have withstood the test of time.

 

 

Songs of Love, Poems of Sadness

The Erotic Verse of the Sixth Dalai Lama

Translations by Paul Williams

This brief collection was rich in natural imagery and showed just how much love could affect you physically. The short verses in this book were poems that yearned for love. They truly depicted how love could be taken away in a heartbeat. The young lovers in this book did not always have the fortune of lasting relationships so it was evident that love should be valued when it is possessed.

Paul Williams beautifully translated the verse of the esteemed sixth Dalai Lama and allowed readers to be enlightened by the wisdom of such a holy figure. Clearly this Dalai Lama had experienced the many facets of love and had sadly lamented many times a lost love. His intimate reflections allowed the reader to glean great insight into his most personal moments such as his feelings at the beginning of a new relationship.

The main critiques of this collection were that it was far too brief and that some translations were not easily understood by the average reader. In addition, the verse could often be very abstract in nature so the latent meanings of these poems were difficult to interpret. Despite these critiques, this was a deeply poignant and spiritual body of work.

 

 

If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho

Translations by Anne Carson

This translated work that compiled all of Sappho’s fragmented verses in one collection allowed the reader to get a sense of the rich life experiences of this renowned Greek poet. The variety of portions of her verse contained pleas to the Greek gods, goddesses, and muses for the safety of her family and companions. It was evident that Sappho was close to many and truly valued her beloved companions.

What was unfortunate about having only segmented verse though was the sense of losing the deeper meanings of her verse. The translator explained the missing pieces of her verses in her introduction by stating that none of Sappho’s poems existed in full. The fragments though led to a disjointed reading experience. Another critique were the obscure references to ancient Greek cities and temples that without the help of the book’s glossary were not easily understood.

Despite these major critiques, this was a beautiful collection of verse on many topics but primarily on the love that Sappho had for her romantic partners who were often female. The stanzas revered the female physique and appearance. Her poetry though was often introspective in nature and full of complex emotions about the women she loved. They were passionate poems full of fervent desire for her companions. This complete collection is recommended for those who want to read the full range of Sappho’s writings that was made very accessible for modern readers by the translator.

 

 

100 Love Sonnets

Pablo Neruda

This book beautifully translated from its original Spanish is an intimate collection of sonnets dedicated to Neruda’s beloved wife, Matilde. It was evident in reading this book that Neruda passionately loved his wife and was very emotional about the thought of her death. The sonnets in this book were numbered and organized according to the time of day the poem was set in.

These poems were full of deep feelings and mildly erotic in nature when he described the beauties of his wife’s physical being. He loved her not only for her pleasant appearance but also for her imperfections. Many of the poems alluded to the peacefulness of nature and her sense of oneness with the earth.

Pablo Neruda and his wife had both had similar humble upbringings that laid the foundation for their future. He alluded to the poverty of their former lives and how it brought them closer together. Theirs was a happy marriage bound to last eternally. Although some poems had dark undertones particularly the ones set in the darkness of night, the poems set during the light of day reflected his abiding love of nature.

This book was an eloquently worded ode to the multifaceted aspects of love and is perfect for reading with your romantic partner. There is little to critique about this book except for its mentions of places the reader may not be familiar with.

 

 

Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems

Salil Jha

Since this my book, to present an objective review, I will let Kirkus review speak for Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems.

 

From Kirkus:

Jha’s collection of concise, warm, and erotic poetry explores the delights of physical love from (primarily heterosexual) male and female perspectives.

The bulk of these poems describe various acts of sexual congress in non-explicit ways while trying to capture the rich emotional tenor of lovemaking as opposed to casual sex. “Just feel the words because these poems are written not to be understood by the mind but to be felt by the heart,” Jha writes. He switches between male and female perspectives, describing the joys of being taken and taking. “Love Fantasies” seems to describe a heterosexual woman’s experience: “Then I ride it like a cowgirl to reach as far as I can be. / I hustle, I shake, I grind, I wind, I go deep / where there is only one path and one way to be.” Elsewhere, “Wake Up” has a decidedly more heterosexual male perspective: “You slide me down / Into the wetness / Even before / I am awake.” Many of the poems, such as “One Soul” and “Soul Mate,” focus on the feeling of love itself, absent any particular physical expression. The text is peppered with simple line drawings of sex, like a slideshow of soft-core Kama Sutra.

Jha manages to sketch the outlines of sex and love without making it too concrete or specific. The poems’ shifting points of view create a sensual atmosphere that encourages the reliving of fond memories and the ignition of current fantasies. Although the language used to describe anatomy can sometimes be clunky or a little too fruit-oriented—the melon family makes many appearances—the spirit of the work is joyful and tender.

Erotic poetry that evokes feelings of joy, happiness, and an overall celebration of the arts of physical and romantic love.

 

 

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