Journey into the Shadow and the Sunshine – by Annabel Harz


Artwork – Mosaic Tree by Annabel Harz 

By Robin L Harvey

There are two things you immediately notice when you launch into Annabel Harz’s uplifting poetry collection, Journey into the Shadow and the Sunshine.

The first is the colourful cover illustration, comprised of a flower-petal like image in bursts of rainbow hues. In its centre is the a Yin/Yang symbol with the left side half black, and the right, half white. The pencil crayon-like lines used to fill and colour the image are almost reminiscent of childhood scribblings. This combination aptly represents the author’s journey from trauma and depression into a firmly grounded, centred life.

The second thing is the impressive list of presentation testimonials from accredited professionals. Each praises the collection, where Harz documents her evolution from a damaged soul to one in recovery, in large part for its ability to help heal others.

Harz’s poems flow through haunted memories, growing self reflection and knowledge, that finally land her centred in a world of growth and joy. The opening section, entitled Shadow, reflects Harz’s bleak beginnings. Poems like “Dreams of Reality” and “Soul Prison” describe her life before recovery as an “open jail,” where, “… my waking life is as unreal as my dreams.”

“I gave up wishing on moonbeams so many moons ago,” she writes in “Transformation.”

“On Time,” a poem reflects the times the darkness in her spirit almost destroyed her will to live. “I’m weary of this emotional roller coaster. It’s vicious, I want to get off,” the author writes.

“Carefree,” reflects a painful irony in the lives of many trauma survivors, who must hide their pain behind a happy facade. “Look closer: she’s not carefree,” Harz writes. “Her smile is encased in tears.”

The next section, Survival, contains poems that show the author inching toward a better life.

In “Breakdown,” Harz writes of the epiphany that eventually gives her strength. “I know I am slowly but surely digging my own grave.”

“Connection,” is a poignant reflection on the pain and confusion felt when trauma survivor experiences a love for which she is unprepared. Emotions become “a terrifying whirlpool” …  leading her “far, far away, deep within myself, desperately treading water.”

In the uplifting poem, “Yesterdays,” Harz has recovered enough to bid goodbye to suicide – “you were never meant to be one of the options … Nevermore do I want to go back there. Ever.”

Poems in the section entitled Space tell of how her damaged spirit found permission and the inner space to explore and grow as in the poem, “Ghosts of The Past.”  Her she aspires to find, “an opening that allows a glimmer of hope to shine through?”

In the final section, Sunshine, the poet emerges as a woman reborn in recovery, happy and free.

The love poem “Life Force Within” expresses Harz’s readiness at last to connect and be loved. “The world is illuminated by you at its glowing epicentre,” she writes.

“Perceptions,” sums up the author’s journey, when at last, “The good and the bad, the ugly and the beautiful, the yin and the yang, combine.”

Her final poem, “I Am,” is touching and inspirational. Harz, having reached the end of her journey, looks back on her transformation as, “… a weary traveller arriving home with gladness. I am music. I am poetry. I am art. I am.”

Harz reaches the reader with direct yet evocative word choices. She is a minimalist poet who often uses dramatic narrative and other unique expressive elements of form in this work. While she employs little imagery or stylistic embellishments, the approach works well here as it counterbalances the collection’s forceful and, at times, disturbing subject matter.

The collection’s design – the coloured page backgrounds, the hand-drawn images that accompany each poem – creates a lyrical narrative within a stunning, visual/poetic mix. Take the journey to light along with Annabel Harz. Her poetry’s wisdom and insight, combined with the book’s beautiful artwork, will make you more than glad you did.

Journey into the Shadow and the Sunshine by Annabel Harz, published through BalBoa.Press, a Division of Hay House. Available as E-book and Paperback