Book Review: 13th Breath by Sittie Cates

13th Breath: A Collection of Poetry and Prose is a book of poems and essays by Filipino author Jacqueline Cates Flaviano, more known in the blogging and online writing community as Sittie Cates. Specifically, it consists of seven poems and six essays dealing with a variety of subjects such as love and loss, friendship, dreams and many others. As the book is autobiographical in nature, it gives us a picture of the woman behind those words as she travelled from her younger days to her present adult life. It is more like a series of her reflections with ripples that can certainly touch the heart of the readers.

As poetry is not that popular nowadays, Cates’ poems bring in nostalgia and memories, some sad but hopeful, others relieving and wishful. Hers are written freestyle, a veer from the strict guidelines of verses and rhymes which many poets follow, yet losing the natural rhythm and drama in the end. Hers have certain grace, much like the sweet but evocative poems (dedications) that Danielle Steel loves to put in her books before the start of her long novels. Cates’ poems just take you at the moment, at the exact time and place, that you also see the magical skies or feel the cold wind she beautifully described.

Personally, I loved her poem entitled “Envisaging the Essence of Time”. It’s straightforward, honest and relevant. Though it is optimistic and uplifting, it reminds me of Henry W. Longfellow’s equally powerful yet depressing poem “Old Age”. Their poems complement each other, one is young and determined, the other is dying and confused.

Cates has also a number of poems dealing with love and dreams which made me recollect my more youthful and passionate life years ago. At the end of each poem, there is an “About This Piece” segment which describes the inspiration or the story behind their creation.

On the other hand, Cates’ essays are more like feature essays and opinions, written in first person and with personal voice. They were written in light and fun tone, making them a pleasure to read. You will mostly agree with what she had said and written. Her work, “Soul Mates: My Idea on That One Great Love – Is it Possible” is very entertaining. In a way, it is exciting and thought-provoking, with a witty twist in the end.

Over the two, I enjoyed Cates’ poems more than her essays. As the cliché goes, her poems are “breath of fresh air”. They are unique and dreamy, and a pleasurable escape from today’s contrite and heavy writing. Still, her works are all great, something worth all your time reading.

You can follow Cates and browse through her works at Smashwords, Flipreads, Kobo and her personal blog The Musings of a Hopeful andPecunious Wordsmith. Aside from 13th Breath: A Collection of Poetryand Prose, her other two books, Sleepyhead? NOT! and Are You There, God? It’sMe, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You are also available at Amazon.


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