In Resilience, with her wonderful use of language and imagery, Emily Bilman weaves through the poems with her skilful use of metaphor. Each section of this poetry book reminds us that our own capacity for resilience endows us with the power to survive trauma. As we survive tragedy or misfortune, we begin to evolve personally and grow spiritually. In these poems, the poet pens an understanding of compassion and the connectivity of each of us to each other and each to all, as in ‘Everyman’ – “we are everyman / our eyes shine / like lamp posts / our words are / thwarted angels / each word, a gift”.
Both literally and metaphorically, the poet draws upon a humanistic premise that extends from the mythological dimension to our contemporary values, as in ‘Daemons’. Here can be found the wisdom that swells from an understanding of our struggles in the continuity of time – “my-daemons-in-chaos / vie with my synapses for ideas linked / to metaphors as an old poem / is joined to a new one and I circumscribe / new symbols on words...”
The poems in this book show that the poet herself, has been in those hollows of isolation and solitude and risen from them as can be read in the title poem ‘Resilience’ – “As I entered the tuff-earth’s / Dark recesses, came in and out / Of her damp caves where I saw…” to the final poem, ‘Transfiguration’ – “The woman singing with her desert-voice / transformed the sky and the sand / and the nomad sitting by the barren bush / into one seamless immensity…”.
It might be noted, at least in this reader’s eyes, that the six sections of this book, “Resilience, The Stairwell, Everyman, The Tempest, Faust’s Controversy, Transfiguration”, are not dissimilar to the well known stages of loss and grief. Like Faust to whom the book refers, we have to surpass evil impulses to reach resilience. The modern Faust defies death through the power of resilience. In the process of reading this book, the reader attains not only an existential resilience in his own understanding of man but a personal metamorphosis.
Bruce Kauffman, Author and Poet
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
by Bruce Kauffmann
In Resilience, Emily Bilman reveals that it is only by fearlessly exploring the darkest aspects of oneself that one can glimpse dazzling shafts of light. Like a deep sea diver, she explores the depths of oceans to return with pearls of great price. This journey to the depths is fraught with danger; it is often safer and more comfortable to skate across the surface of life as so many people do. But as writers such as Joseph Conrad have revealed, there is a human need to gaze into the heart of darkness, no matter what the cost. Poem after poem in this collection, is a journey of self-exploration and by following these journeys, readers undertake their own exploration, not knowing what disturbing insights they may find along the way. As the title of this collection suggests, humans have a mysterious capacity to survive such insights; they need not be broken by them but made richer and stronger.
by James Knox Whittet, Poet & President of the Suffolk Poetry Society