There are times when it’s good to get out of one’s comfort zone – to try something new, push the limits, and feel like a novice again. While it’s true that I can identify a good story within just a few pages (a pretty frustrating ability, by the way), poetry and I have had some disagreements in the past, and I ended up drifting apart from it for a while. Today, a book gave me back my desire and interest in verses.
Endymion or The State of Entropy: A Lyrical Drama, written by Kurt R. Ward and illustrated by Rebecca Yanovskaya, is a mythological portrait of the author’s struggle for self-actualization by integrating the conscious with the unconscious. The illustrated fantasy conjures a world in which archetypal characters from Greek mythology battle for dominance, as Endymion, the main character, attempts to wake himself from an endless sleep.
Part epic battle, part psychotherapeutic journey, Endymion is set at John Keats’ gravesite in Rome. It is written in heroic couplets as one continuous dream, where Jupiter, Diana, Zephyrus, Hermes, and Endymion wrestle with reason, fear, hope and divine inspiration. The book is written in four acts and is lushly illustrated by the celebrated artist Rebecca Yanovskaya and includes a detailed mythological reference section and commentaries by the author.
Endymion is a delight to the senses. The images it conjures in each line make the reader go back in time, to times that we almost always remember superficially but to which we owe a lot. Kurt recovers the romanticism, the emotional, the individual of the past, makes it his own, and presents it in a creative and eloquent way.
I must admit that I was initially reluctant to read this book. It’s been so long since I’ve touched poetry that I didn’t know if I’d be able to fully appreciate it, if I’d understand it, if I’d be the right reader. However, I decided to give it a try because the proposal sounded quite interesting. It turned out to be a surprise that did not disappoint.
Mixing psychology, mythology, folklore, esotericism, and fantasy worlds, Kurt R. Ward recounts an internal struggle that sounds quite personal, perhaps even familiar. He gives words to sensations and thoughts that we have often experienced in the search for who we are, what we came to do, and where we are going. It is just that, the process of individualization, the central theme of the book.
Filled with references to Carl Jung, classical poetry, and Greco-Roman mythology, this is a book that I found a bit difficult to follow. I had to reread several times to understand what some verses meant, without neglecting the references at the end of the book. I still have a few questions to answer because of my unfamiliarity with poetry, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it.
The work of illustrator Rebecca Yanovskaya is no slouch either, offering visual support that can either complement the text or stand out on its own, depending on how you look at it. The level of detail is impressive, highlighting the smoothness of the strokes, the play of light and shadow, and the design of each of the characters along with their respective scenes.
If I don’t give it the full five stars, it’s because I want to remain honest at all times. I can hardly compare this reading to any other, and while I know there are, they elude me at the moment. It is the perfect book for lovers of romantic poetry, and for those who are not so familiar there are also messages and lines that make you think about the mysteries of life.
I would say that this is a book that is worth reading several times – I know that at least I will – and that each reading will allow us to understand something more, find more hidden messages, as if it were an adventure. Just that would describe this book without problems, the adventure of entering our inner world, fighting against our lights and shadows, until finally waking up, conscious, aware of what we are.
For those who are interested, there is a limited deluxe edition that is only available through the author’s website. All the details can be found there, plus readers can see how beautiful it is in a video review by Denis Poisson of Foolish Fish.
Needless to say, I appreciate Kurt contacting me and sending me a copy to review for The Wild Hunt. I hope to read something new soon, although this time I will have high expectations about it!