Lovers of the Vortex

Lovers of the Vortex showcases featured reviews,

photos, videos, and artwork by readers of “Love from the

Vortex & Other Poems”

Pictures from the 'Fall into the Vortex' Challenge

Featured Review

A revelation; a courageous book of poems above life and love

Professor Sealey-Ruiz's book is, quite simply, a revelation—her book of poems will take you on a journey of self-discovery about what it means to love another person, to love yourself, and perhaps, most of all, what it means to be loved. Her prose is ethereal and evolving, just like her understanding of love does through the book. As I fell deeper and deeper into her world and her words, I found myself physically shaken and emotionally moved to such profound depths as I, too, pondered the complexity of all that love is.


In structure, Sealey-Ruiz’s book is a series of poems that, in part, narrates six of her past relationships—each relationship a collective grouping of poems that, taken together, form a self-reflective journey of a person conceptualizing love, and then re-conceptualizing love over and over again as her understanding of love (and of herself) matures and changes. While Sealey-Ruiz’s poems are deeply personal, they are also deeply relatable—and I found myself intimately feeling her pain and her joy as I thought about my own relationships and my own life. The perpetual vulnerability in her words, the depth of her spirits which she courageously opens up to the reader, and the sheer rawness of her emotions jumped off the page and into my heart. I was able to feel her struggle with trying to understand something so magical and also so visceral—love—and the many ways in which love manifests in our relationships (and in ourselves). I was able to see how the meaning of love evolved to her as she herself grew as a person during her (still ongoing) life journey. And, by the end, I was left to contemplate how, above all, the meaning of life and the people we choose (or do not choose, on purpose or by fate) to share (or not share) this life with is tied up in how we understand what love is in the first place—and what it can be and what it is not. If we are to use the metaphor of love being like a rollercoaster, then Sealey-Ruiz takes you on an excursion through the pain, hurt, anger and loss caused by love, but also the joy, wonder, sheer bliss, and mysteriousness of being immersed in love, too.


Overall, I highly recommend this breathtaking book of poems by Professor Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz.  The fact that this book is a deeply personal narrative of six past relationships is already an exceptionally daring act, and then to write with such beauty, poise, and vivacity adds to the significance of this feat. There are too many poems to pick my favorites; for example, in a poem entitled “Today,” Sealey-Ruiz movingly writes about how some of her more jubilant memories with a man will be wrapped, like presents, stored and taken away. In one of her longer poems across ten pages, entitled “A Moment of Remembering What Liberation Feels Like…” Sealey-Ruiz recounts in stirring prose a past relationship, and how the tension around motherhood (among other elements) with one particular lover leads her to seek freedom from their complicated past. Or, in her younger years narrated at the beginning of the book, she vividly describes how the power of love’s grasp can be dictated by small moments of physical affection in the poem “Your Touch.” And, at the end of the book, she also—if differently—elicits the ways in which recognizing the salience of the love she had to give within a relationship was in itself emancipating in the poem “Strength.” In all of the poems throughout the book, Sealey-Ruiz is a master wordsmith; personification, allegories, analogies, metaphors and rich imagery line the pages, often accompanied with black-and-white sketches that add additional wonder to her words. Even though my life experiences could not be more different than those of Sealey-Ruiz, there were moments when I read some of her poems and felt like closing my eyes, imagining that it was I in her shoes, trying to navigate her whirlwind—perhaps, her vortex—of emotions of love and life.


In one of the final poems of the book, in an epilogue-like section of additional poems, Sealey-Ruiz writes that: “...words cannot define Love, words limit what Love can be. Love is what I wish to evolve into, what I imagine one day I can become.” Such words are a fitting summary of this majestic book: there are no words to describe the magnitude of this undertaking and the way in which reading this book will touch your soul like nothing else can.

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