A Sky Full of Wings
by Ksenia Rychtycka
Finishing Line Press

"I push away embroidered pillows, hands
insistent on Father’s back till he wakes,
...We are as snug as birds
nesting. Soon our nest will empty."

In Rychtycka’s poetry compilation, the use of vivid sensory images brings the intimate feelings of one’s memories to life. An ode to journeys past, the poet’s trek ranging from Chicago to Kyiv is eye-opening, weaving together a snapshot of time that is sometimes torturous and haunting, at others hopeful and resplendent.

Going through her personal history, Rychtycka demonstrates the intrigue in time traveling through one’s past, from the sacrifices to the simple joys of a father’s love before he leaves for work. Using the metaphor of birds and active verbs like “swooping,” the poet paints a scintillating landscape in the reader’s mind. Specifically, in “I Knew Nothing,” the naivete of a child as the Detroit riots burn the city down is downright harrowing. While one poem uses the lime-green bird image to conjure the blossoming of young love, another talks about the fleeting nature of time and how its passage can make even the most familiar of places–some that the reader may have called home–foreign.

Trauma can be the ultimate inspirer. In “Circle of Life,” Dido’s journey from Ukraine to Detroit highlights the anguish of families splintering. At the same time, readers will get a bird’s-eye view of backpacking in Europe to the point where they are right there with the speaker enjoying the hostels in Grindelwald and witnessing a “Greek stranger singing out an open window.” More than anything else, the compilation uses a raw and authentic voice to highlight the limitlessness of the skies as they show that however dark a day can get, hope endures.

2022 Eric Hoffer Book Award Grand Prize Short List book, Chapbook Category Winner, and da Vinci Eye Winner

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