The Key to Life is to Be-long

In a volume of presentations at the 2012 International Colloquium of American Studies, on poetry in the United States, Marcel Arbeit, noted student on southern culture, writes, “Poems as Part of Everyday Life According to Fred Chappell.” On point, Arbeit writes that the North Carolina laureate Fred Chappell’s thought that “bad poetry,…has too much pathos, lacks spontaneity, and is devoid of meaning…written by someone for whom poetry is no joy.”

Paulette Rochelle-Levy book avoids that trap with blend personal – at times embarrassingly private – reflections on her life and the conditions that plague early 21st century humankind. Longing and Belonging is an invitation to wholeness written by a poetic soul that drags its fractures into the light to make sense of an existence that plunges into nonsense.

This work of ten years and nine months is my Godwrestling, a challenging and joyous struggle through the solitude of the pandemic….This is written so that you may gain strength and wisdom for your own journey. There are so many places where we meet, even when we think we are lost and lonely.


With that, the self-described dancer, Jewish Spiritual Leader, and wholistic psychotherapist, walks readers through heartbreak, loss, cancer, love, loneliness, rejection, and disappointments toward belonging. Rochelle-Levy weaves a poetic memoir that seduces readers of like experiences to follow her footsteps until they find themselves on the path.

The organized 339-page PDF, ARC I received from Reedsy Discovery, opened each of nine chapters that reflect on topics such as, “Saying Goodbye,” Healing” or “On Time”. Some of the poems expand her thoughts others dance alone. For example, “Psalm for Renewal” being as a lament over the southern California fire losses where flames settle as “ashes and putrid air” on “blackened earth”.

Later in thoughts on the death, the author offers that the losses in all of life add up, and offers a couple lessons for poets and healers. “There is wisdom in insecurity, for real security does not really exist,” she declares. Rochelle-Levy, a cancer survivor,, came to grips with mortality.

“There are many kinds of death, in addition to the big Death,” she writes, and in the end finds that the key to belong is “to learn to belong to myself, to hear the voice of my own soul, my Higher Self, who has called me over and over to listen, to really listen to the voice of inner direction.”

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