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Honeycomb Poems by T. Kozumplik

On my daily wander through the land of Instapoetry I was lucky enough to stumble across Kozumplik’s one day promotion for a free copy of his second collection of poetry, Honeycomb Poems. Quick to the draw I downloaded a copy and over a cup of chamomile tea I devoured, yes devoured, the entirety of the collection. I was familiar with excerpts of Kozumplik’s work from his Instagram account ǀ @poetry_djinnihunter, but these pale in comparison to the work contained in this anthology. It is clear that these works have been carefully handpicked and curated to give taste and texture to a collection that left the scent of perfume and fruit in the air and felt like a stroll through an exotic garden, thick with the curve of the land and the curve of hips. The connecting theme of bees, like the waxwork structure of a hive, hold this collection in…

Falling Awake by Alice Oswald

How do you personify nature in a rich and striking way? You read ‘Falling Awake’..and take note. This radiant collection from Alice Oswald presents the world around us using symbolic representations of life itself. Falling Awake, the winner of the Costa Poetry Award, 2016, is an anthology that is meant to be read slow, to be read with rhythm and more importantly, read aloud. When reciting these poems, it is clear Oswald wanted the reader to hear the swans’ hiss and the buzz of the bees because every time you mingle with onomatopoeia, you fall deeper into the true meaning of her verse. Delicately placed, the construction of each poem lends itself to the intonation of every observation Oswald makes. Her choice of words draws the reader closer to nature: This is the day the flies fall awake mid-sentence and lie stunned on the window-sill shaking with speeches (…) and…

REVIEW ǀ The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

Amanda Lovelace is a poetess with a remarkable talent for crafting beautiful poetry. Her poems reflect life – her life, to be exact (“I was born a little bookmad”). Each poem conveys a simplistic beauty that offers a personal insight into a somewhat distressing life journey. She details the fraught relationship with her mother and the abuse endured by her beloved. Her troubles warrant an open mouth, a gasp and, at times, a rapid swelling of the tear duct. But the emotions don’t stop there. By the time you get to the end, you will feel both inspired and empowered to rewrite your own life journey. From page zero, Lovelace plays with the cliches of a fairytale by mapping her life into chapters: the princess, the damsel and the queen. The dedication functions as a prologue to give it that Romeo and Juliet – kinda – feeling. But you will…

REVIEW ǀ Everything But a Smile by Candace D. Henry

This collection came as a surprise. Coming to ‘Everything But a Smile’ I couldn’t help but notice that there was an almost cartoon quality to the cover art, and that the dedication was one of upbeat hope. The pieces also had simple titles, so I was expecting an easy read. But as I delved into the anthology I realised this was a body of work that would be challenging and confronting. The subject matter poses multiple questions about the experiences of ‘othering’ through gender, class, ethnicity, and religious and political affiliation.  The author does not preface the works with ownership, but whether these are her personal experiences, or cleverly mastered observations of the world, they tell a powerful and often highly political story of what it means to walk in the shoes of the ‘other’. It was easy to see the truth of suffering in these works, the torment it creates,…

REVIEW ǀ The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan

Racism is real. “My name is Kasienka, I say / Mrs Warren stands up straight / and stretches her back. / She sighs / again / and ridges appear on her brow. / She looks at mama / then back at me. / Well…Cassie, welcome!” …and that’s what you get from The Weight of Water: current issues presented in an implicit way. That poem was aptly titled ‘First Day’. As you can imagine, it was not a great start for the novel’s protagonist, Kasienka. But it is one of many trials the young, polish immigrant is faced with in Sarah Crossan’s, free verse novel The Weight of Water. Don’t let the words ‘free verse’ put you off. Crossan serves metaphors as a way to communicate issues such as poverty, immigration, and being different, in such a raw way she makes it relatable. Across 126 poems, you gradually grow attached to…

REVIEW ǀ Rhythms of a Teenage Heartbeat by Jaclyn Lindsay

This self-published anthology is one that intrigued me before I had even opened the pages.  In coming to the anthology the author shares that all but two poems were written when she was a teenager.  She also shares that it was composed during a time when she was first finding her voice.  This background had me eagerly reading to discover what her formative years were like and to test my ability to spot the works written in her post-teen years. The main themes of the collection are clear.  Just a few poems in you’ll realise that love and heartbreak rule the pages. Our selfishness as teenagers and need for a full heart being only a few of the thoughts going through my head while reading the 20 poems. We all have memories of what it was like to experience young love and to put those experiences on paper. This collection is the perfect…

REVIEW ǀ The Crafty Poet by Diane Lockward (Revised Ed. 2016)

There is a reason that this book has a 4.6/5 rating on Goodreads, and that is because it was of those books that can actually help you to become a better poet. Written by Diane Lockward, a well known poet, poetry blogger and poetry advocate, this book is an instructional manual and practical study guide.  If followed, this handbook will help you to improve your general understanding of poetry, your writing process and ultimately your finished pieces of work. The book is divided into sections such as: Voice, Sound and Syntax, and each is carefully examined and explored. This is supported by writing prompts specific to the study area, writing tips and tricks, relevant interviews with poets and model poems to help you place the technique in context. This generous book will also help you to analyse and critique both your own work, and the work of others more thoughtfully, and to…