Sea Between: A Collection by Jessica Cotten is the writer's first published collection of poetry. Her Pennsylvania roots seem to inspire her writing and her connection with nature and its seasons.
The writer's style is light but explorative and falls between Romantic (era) poetry and new hip Instagram writing with a touch of new ageism in the mix; not new age in the sense of crystals, but more of an extension of nature. It is a style that should be popular with the younger crowd and those just learning to enjoy poetry. That is not say the poetry is lacking, but it is not intimidating. The messages are straightforward and do not require the reader to dig for meaning.
Cotten's sea is more in the mind than in nature. It is the gulf between where one is and where one wants to be, and the word, sea, appears only in the title poem but is implied in many places. Themes in the collection revolve on light both literal and figurative. This is clear in the poems "Forgotten Ember" and "Our Haven is a Bright Star." The latter poem is one of my favorites in the collection. Light is Spring, and the absence of light is winter -- melancholy and gloom:
The lies of winter are that desolation and death are forever. And every year, we feel them trying to wrap their mangled arms around us, promising us harm.
Winter may scream at us day and night. It may tell us stories of darkness, loneliness, sadness, and danger. But our haven is a bright star. And we hold tight.
"Our Haven is a Bright Star" shows the imagery and symbolism that is possible in poetry. It reads as a mythical battle between dark and light.
The theme of air is second only to light in this collection. "To Rise," "The Wind Will Carry," and "Like Wind Like Spirit" capture the elemental force of wind and the ocean of air in which we live. The ability to rise, to fly, and to release our roots and free ourselves is presented well in these poems.
Overall, Cotten presents a well-written collection of poetry that expresses her thoughts and feelings well. The language is simple, functional, and flows naturally. The symbolism is also clear and leaves little to debate. Although I would prefer more complexity in the writing, Sea Between does offer a good introduction and starting point for those wishing to begin a journey into poetry.
Joseph Spuckler has a Masters Degree in International Relations and a deep appreciation for poetry and Modernist writers. He is a Marine Corps veteran and works as a mechanic devoting his off hours for motorcycling and reviewing poetry. Originally from Cleveland, he currently resides in Dallas.