What is the Wind in the Cave? It’s the title of James B. Nicola’s third poetry collection, as well as the queasy feeling in your gut that accompanies love, loss, addiction, aging, and the like—and through it all, ultimately, triumph. “Love poems” abound—but each comes with a twist, whether of whimsy, wit, resilience, or . . . revenge.
Many of these pieces are narrative (Nicola won a People’s Choice award from Storyteller magazine) while others are metaphysical, metaphorical, or humorous. Stylistically they range from free verse to formal (he has been a featured poet at New Formalist). A Yale graduate, Nicola has also won a Dana Literary Award and, for his nonfiction book Playing the Audience, a Choice magazine award.
But the wind whistles in many more hearts than those whose love has gone south. In one poem, for instance, Charlie Brown, who is now a well-adjusted adult, visits Lucy, who is not. A second offers a soul a premature glimpse of his name on a gravestone, while a crow caws and the wind wooshes. Yet another serves up a “Daddy” poem that Sylvia Plath never could have imagined.
James B. Nicola’s poems have appeared in the Antioch, Southwest and Atlanta Reviews, Rattle, and Poetry East. His nonfiction book, Playing the Audience, won a Choice award. His two poetry collections, published by Word Poetry, are Manhattan Plaza (2014) and Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater (2016).
Poet Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer writes: “These poems are willing… to be wrestled by darkness, to be lost and unpetalled and burned. And Nicola writes them with such lush language, such subtle meters, that we find ourselves hypnotized.” Meanwhile, best-selling author and poet Jennifer Michael Hecht (Doubt, Stay) calls Wind in the Cave “a weird and beautiful book.”
As per page 87, Risk the agony…. Risk the ecstasy. Feel every breeze on your moistened face … stung by sweet storms.