The Poetry Question

Discovering the Relevance of Words




“An awful silence reigned throughout those subterraneous regions,”

Just be yourself

is not such good advice.

In that it presumes the self is a defined entity

which one wishes to hide.

When the self is in fact

just loose.

One works to define a context

for one’s life.

It’s a glass-half-empty-but-at-least-that-half-is-whiskey sort of theme for Emily Bludworth de Barrios’ Extraordinary Power. With its titles taken from Horace Walpole’s 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto – considered the first true Gothic novel, and where the main character is crushed to death just before his wedding – this little chapbook pushes readers to examine their life, and just exactly what it is they want out of it, versus what they are simply willing to settle for.

It’s a guide-book. It tells you to look at your anxiety, your fear of what success might feel like, your willingness to stay status quo. It’s imploring you to be more than you already are, and reminding you that the future isn’t futile. It begs you to forget about the idea of marrying rich, or gaining that big inheritance, and that even if that should happen, it shouldn’t define you as a person. It still means that you shouldn’t settle, shouldn’t be lazy.

from “he beheld the plumage on the miraculous casque shaken in concert with the sounding of the brazen trumpet”

One must decide to be different

if one wishes to be different from what one is.

You with your list of worries


Might as well

say goodbye to the realistic world.

Bludworth de Barrios is telling you that it isn’t good enough to just “be yourself,” because if you’re just yourself, then you’re missing out on what you could be. If you can’t change, and can’t be different, and aren’t willing to not only fill the glass to the brim, but drink it down, and fill it up again, then you might as well say goodbye to the “realistic world,” and just accept laziness as how it should be.

But then again, if you follow this guide, and your goals, then you might just find your best self, and your extraordinary power.

from “He sighed, and retired, but with eyes fixed on the gate.”

You only wish to honor

your extraordinary power, what that might entail.

to work continually

is required.

In a best kind of self

is like how one may arrive.

Grab your copy of Emily Bludworth de Barrios’ Extraordinary Power at Factory Hollow Press. 

About Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin spent more than a decade in Education as a high school English teacher, and is now an Instructional Coach for the Longview School District. He is also the founder of The Poetry Question, an online journal which focuses on reviews of small press poetry publications, and runs a regular series called "The Power of Poetry," where notable poets share their personal stories of how poetry has affected their lives. Margolin resides in Vancouver, Washington with his wife, and daughter.

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