Fine Black Lines

Posted on: April 1st, 2016 by

fine black lines

What better way to celebrate National Poetry Month than to celebrate a book of poetry on breast cancer. The book is not new, but its message continues to be timeless and universal.

Fine Black Lines: Reflections on Facing Cancer, Fear and Loneliness by breast cancer survivor Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad is an phenomenal collection of poetry for those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and their loved ones.

Besides being beautifully written, the poems and prose in this collection speak directly to the heart. These honest works are profound, yet simple — but never simplistic. As someone who was diagnosed with breast cancer, I easily relate to each piece of work in this book. In fact, among all the books I have at home, this one is among my favorites and sits in the bookshelf near my bed.

It’s rare that I find a book of poetry without a having a favorite poem or poems, but in this collection, all the poems are my favorites. They each touch me in different ways, and the sum of the total pieces of work equals sheer brilliance.

Here are two samples from the book:

The Mall

I went shopping today
for a bra that would not bind
for prostheses to remind.

It is difficult to search for something
that you never really wanted
in the first place.

You Will Be Just Fine

Please do not trivialize
My suffering.

You who are healthy
You whose mortality is as yet
Only dimly perceived —
Please do not say
“You will be just fine.”

I may well be — someday —
But I do not know…
You do not know…

On a personal note, I was lucky to meet Hjelmstad and her supportive husband Les when I was a newly diagnosed and frightened cancer patient. She helped me immeasurably and on April 4, 2001, signed her book for me as follows: “…with much love and best wishes for courage, comfort — and joy.”

And over the years, I have derived much courage, comfort, and joy from this book. If you haven’t yet purchased a copy, please do so here. You will be glad you did.

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4 Responses to Fine Black Lines

  1. Rebecca had this to say about that:

    Beth, I had an appreciation for poetry when I was much younger. I even tried writing poetry when I was in high school. I would have to get into it again as I remember enjoying reading it. Writing poetry was hard for me. This book you’re recommending sounds powerful. I already like the pieces you’re sharing. I will make sure to look into it. Thank you for sharing with us! xo

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Rebecca,

      Yes, I’ve always had a soft spot for poetry, too. I’m happy to share about this fabulous book of poetry. Check it out. :)

  2. Nancy's Point had this to say about that:

    Hi Beth,
    I have a copy of this fantastic book of poetry too. It’s wonderful you chose to usher in National Poetry Month by reviewing Lois’ book. My favorite (well one of them) is, “No Lifeguard on Duty”. It’s on the back cover. Thank you for sharing about this book and helping more people to discover it. xx

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Nancy,

      I love “No Lifeguard on Duty.” All her poems are so wonderful. Thank you for your comment.

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