Robinson, Philip. “We Still Leave a Legacy”, We Still Leave a Legacy Press, 2017.
Hope, Determination and Remembrance
It was not that long ago when members of the LGBT community came face-to-face with death over and over again. HIV/AIDS claimed the lives and the loves of our friends and leaders and we had to learn how to deal with this. I had already left this country when AIDS struck so brutally and on a trip back home in 1989, I learned that mostly everyone in the community I had once known was gone. I have yet to be to reconcile that. Philip Robinson in “his
chapbook of verses written and dedicated in part to the many friends and family members that have transitioned either by way of HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-troubling issues” has reopened the wounds of that time but as he does, he also captures his sense of hope, determination and memory of those who are no longer here. He tells of the legacy they left and that legacy can be as simple as having once lived among us. In this way, they live on in our hearts and minds. I, for one, have never forgotten that we live today because others came before us and we now live on their shoulders. Not everyone can be a hero or an earth-shaker but everyone has the ability to influence who we are and how we live.
There is a great deal of emotion in the poems that we have here and there are many stories. I was immediately struck by “Standing Among My Heroes”. Set at the funeral of Thomas, we become one with those who have come to say their final goodbyes and see just how difficult that is. But we see something else and that is that “Yet, I know I stand on the shoulders and beside others. My heroes never leave me”.
What we see in most of the poems is that Robinson felt the need to be involved in the lives of his family and of those that he knew. While this is certainly a positive trait, it can also be heartbreaking and that tragedy and happiness can come at the same time.
I am not a poet and can never pretend to be one but one of my favorite hobbies is translating poetry from Hebrew to English. There is something about emotions that makes them very difficult to catch in another language. Just last year I finished the translation of a poem by one of my favorite Hebrew poets, Alexander Penn. I worked on that poem, off and on during twelve years and the reason I knew I had finished with it was that I was able to both laugh and cry as I read my translation. I felt the same as I read Robinson’s poem and these were about people I did not know anything about.
“We Still Leave a Legacy”, the title poem, tells us that with each we lose something of ourselves and we become more aware of our own mortality. If we bury our dreams, we let go of life but we also realize that with every death we gain more purpose in life and what we do is not just for us but for those who came before us. From death of others, we gain a purpose and it becomes our job to be the voices of those whose voices have been quieted. While death is permanent, life is not and we only have a short time to do what we want to do. I could go on and give the main idea of every poem here but that could make the read less effective for others. It is enough to say that I was affected by every poem in this collection and if there is one thing I have learned here and also by living my own life is that love does not die, people do. I urge you to read this book and think about what is here. I just want to add that it is every difficult to review this because it touches me so directly and I firmly believe that is why Robinson has brought us this collection.