Book Review: In Search of Equilibrium by Theresa Lola

Book Review: In Search of Equilibrium by Theresa Lola

Theresa Lola’s effortless ability to weave family and faith and explore the nexus of the familiar and distant in the Nigerian culture makes this collection one that I can resonate with .

In Search of Equilibrium transpires its names from an almost circle-of-life likeness where when one life passes on,  another is ‘wailed’ into existence. The essence is capture in the ‘Equilibrium’ piece where Lola recollects her grandfather forgetting his name as her new born brother was ‘crowned with a name’.

This collection details very poignant and personal pieces on the heartbreaking impact and effects of Alzheimers. Lola paints the reality and starkness of the condition by taking us on a journey of her reality as she celebrates and remembers the life of her grandfather to his death and how she copes with it. Continue reading “Book Review: In Search of Equilibrium by Theresa Lola”

Book Review: Eye Level by Jenny Xie

Book Review: Eye Level by Jenny Xie

Eye Level is a short poetry collection written by Jenny Xie published this year. When reading any poetry collection, I am always curious to find out how the title formalised and look for links between the poetry and the title. This intersection was revealed in the poem Ongoing which states “She had trained herself to look for answers at eye level, but they were lower, they were changing all the time’ 

WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE TITLE?

The title is very simple yet metaphorical. To me, eye level means seeing the ordinary and not actively looking to see the deeper meaning. It embodies the readers perception on subject matters of the poems which are open and metaphorical but to the reader, they also have the choice to see the semantics or read the piece at ‘eye level.’ or even both!

Continue reading “Book Review: Eye Level by Jenny Xie”

Book Review: Don’t Call Us Dead By Danez Smith

Book Review: Don’t  Call Us Dead By Danez Smith

Don’t Call Us Dead is a poetry collection which I found quite heavy to read due to the depth and intensity of the topics. It varies from a range of issues such as the police brutality, what it means to be black in America and discusses the endemic of HIV.

What do you think of the title?

The title is cemented in the first poem summer, somewhere which states ‘please, don’t call us dead, call us alive someplace better.’  This summarises the political climate of what it means to be black in America.  To simply put it,  I believe the title is a juxtaposition or a bitter-sweet comparison exploring the contrast of death and life. Continue reading “Book Review: Don’t Call Us Dead By Danez Smith”

Book Review: You Took The Last Bus Home by Brian Bilston

Book Review: You Took The Last Bus Home by Brian Bilston

This collection titled ‘You Took The Last Bus Home’ by Brian Bilston is a funny collection of poems. Although this style of humour is quite distinct. Its almost based on punch lines and borderline dry jokes/ mixed with office humour. Nonetheless, I found the irony and the goofiness of the poems amusing because it did make me laugh.

What was my favourite piece in the collection?

My favourite poem in the collection is ‘For We Shall Stare at Mobile Phones’ which light-heartedly focuses on the increase usage of mobile phones and its effects on ‘attractions’ that will ‘close’ due to the attention in which people pay to their phone. This piece ends with a paradoxical line which was ‘This poem was sent from my iPhone’. This marks a very humorous end contradicting the message on the usage of mobile phones.

What did I  think of the whole collection?

The collection was very interesting to read and I believe those that appreciate experimental poetry will really enjoy this collection. It features poems with unique structures like heart-shaped poems, upside down poems (I do not know the technical word for this) and even poetry written as Venn diagrams, organisation chart and excel spreadsheets. If you are interested in exploring various forms and shapes of poetry, you may find this collection as an interesting point of reference.

Concluding thoughts

This collection receives a three star out of five due to the ease of reading and the delivery  of the content is simple to understand. However in some instances, I felt that the reader had to do the work and by that I mean some of the experimental poems requires deep thinking on how it should be read which creates an active and alert reader throughout the piece.

 

Book Review: Between Clay and Star (Various Writers and Translators)

Book Review: Between Clay and Star (Various Writers and Translators)

Between Clay and Star is the first major poetry translation book I have read and much to my surprise, it was quite pleasurable to read. The title is taken from a line of Liliana Ursu ‘Harmonia Mundi’ which reads’At the border between Clay and Star…’

The variety in this book was amazing. We had a spectrum from Ethiopian poets such as Reesom Haile to Tamil poet Shash Trevett and Romanian poets Liliana Ursu.

I enjoyed the exposure to different types of poetry. In fact, reading these poems made me more aware of the importance of translation and how it is imperative in discovering less known voices. Or perhaps simply voices which are not accessible to the mainstream but prominent in their own rights and countries.

Here are some of my favorite lines in the book:

Hugo Claus in 1965-
Give them this day our daily napalm and later our canned food and later our prayers
Shash Trevett in Bitter Waters

O Motherland, look not to me for your warrior.

Reesom Haile in African Anthem-
A shower of colours
To catch her eye
A garment of light
Across the sky
Reesom Haile in Poverty
I have nothing
Taste it with me
If we share,
We can bear
The worst poverty
Ana Blandiana- Self Sufficiency

Always in the air, hanging-like a fruit from 
Its tree, like an arrow from a bended bow,
Like words from its etymology. 

These powerful imagery embedded with the topics of the poems made it really enjoyable. Overall, I’d give this book 3.5 out of 5 because it was a worthwhile read.

Three and the half stars

Thank you for reading!

Book Review: The White Book by Han Kang

Book Review: The White Book by Han Kang

 

The White Book is a short collection of prose which exudes the writers meditation on the topic matter of all things white. Throughout the book, we get a consistent imagery of white such as paper, snow and flowers. Although the book is well written, I did not enjoy the book and developed a love-hate relationship when reading the book. However, I do believe in a constructive review. Therefore, I should add that perhaps through translation some of the essence and authenticity of the book may have been lost.  Yet, I admire the poignant imagery, choice of words and the writing style. It truly is a well-written book. Below are my thoughts and commentary on ‘The White Book’.

What are some of the key themes of the book?
Aside from the key theme of the colour white and its association and representation, I believe this book deals with emotions, death, loss, trauma, memories and culture.

What is your favourite line from the book?

From the segment titled Small White Pills [The White Book (2016)]:

‘…if you could add up all the pills she’d ever taken, what  would the total be? How many hours of pain has she lived through?’

In my opinion, this line is reflective of the significance of medication in mental health. It highlights the effort and sparks a realisation of the emotional aspect of medication and attempts to quantify it.

Choose a short piece in the collection and attempt to explain it. 

The piece in which I have chosen is Sand. Please find the extract below:

Sand from The White Book by Han Kang (2016)

And she frequently forgot,
That her body (all our bodies) is a house of sand.
That it had shattered and is shattering still.
Slipping stubbornly through fingers.

This piece begins with the alliteration of ‘frequently forgot’ which emphasises the fact that we should not forget almost as a persuasive device. The repetition of the word ‘that’ aids our understanding of what the writer wants us to remember which can be summarise as we are:  a) sand and b) broken. This bleak imagery doesn’t end there. It takes the alliteration a step further through the use of ‘slipping stubbornly’ to emphasise our fragile and inevitable fate. We are dispensable no matter how we fight ‘stubbornly’ in life.

Rating

Four Stars

Final Thoughts
Overall, I didn’t enjoy this book but I believe it is important to mention that this is okay and realise that not every book you read you will enjoy. You should read this book if you enjoy prose/ poetic prose. You shouldn’t read this book if you don’t enjoy meditative and reflection pieces.

Thank you for reading!

Book Review: Helium By Rudy Francisco

Book Review: Helium By Rudy Francisco

Helium is a short poetry collection written by Rudy Francisco. It explores various facets of life such as love, mental health, race, acceptance and people. Although I came across the book on the Button Poetry website through their mailing list, my attitude towards the collection was very blasé. I didn’t give it a chance until today when I went into my local bookstore and decide to purchase and read the book. Based on this, I can say that I enjoyed reading the collection and I am very glad I gave the book a chance.

What did you think of the Title? 

Personally, I do not believe the title represented the book.  Although it may be a metaphorical representation as we know that helium is an element. Perhaps, this collection represents the various elements and aspects of the poet’s life which are weaved into the poems.

What are your first impressions?

I was really impressed with the poets ability to describe simple things so vividly. The style of writing in which Francisco uses is very clear, descriptive and imaginable. I was open to the others poems and must admit I found myself smiling and revelling each one.

What do you think the writer’s technique are? 

I believe the writing style of Francisco is one that is relatable. The reader can grasp the clear message of the themes that the writer discusses. The ability to make poetry comprehensible is definitely a great skill to showcase and have as a writer.

What are your top three favourite quotes from the book?

  • ….remind yourself that you are human (From the Poem Instructions).
  • I have a solar-powered confidence and a battery operated smile. (From the Poem My Honest Poem)
  • I am learning that a person who only knows how to fight can only communicate in violence and that shouldn’t  be anyone’s first language        ( From the Poem Rifle II)

What are your top three favourite poems from the collection and why?

1. Accent- This poem explores accents by comparing it to cooking. 
I enjoyed the poem because it is a different and interesting way to look at accents.

2. 'My Honest Poem' is almost like an autobiographical piece exploring the writer's life. 
I enjoyed this poem because it was personal and made me feel at ease reading the poem.

3. Rifle II is an informative piece which talks about how an artist is musical making instruments from guns. 
 It was something that I have never heard before yet this piece made me aware of this in a poetic way. 
I was educated on something that I didn't know about.

Book Review: Kingdom of Gravity by Nick Makoha

Book Review: Kingdom of Gravity by Nick Makoha

Kingdom of Gravity is a poetry collection written by Nick Makoha. This collection explores a range of topics such as war, poverty, the effects of guerrilla leaders on Uganda. Through the writer’s deep and poignant imagery, the reader gets to understand the dark aspect of Ugandan history.

  • What aspect of the poetry collection did you enjoy the most?
    I enjoyed reading Beatitude the most as it was a piece of poetry which I could imagine vividly. I enjoyed analysing the piece on my blog which can be found here.
  • What aspect of the poetry collection was the most emotive?
    I consider the poem ‘Killing Craft’ to be the most emotive aspect of the collection. The topic was heavy as it details a naive boy who smokes marijuana, killed his father, has a ‘river of AIDS’ flowing through his blood. The explicit reference to the ‘boy’ life is quite poignant. In fact, if you are sensitive and unable to stomach gory details of the harsh reality which this poem is centred on, then this is not the book for you.
  • What are your top five quotes in this book and why do you like them so much? 
1. Presidency can buy you celebrity.

This is the opening sentence in the poem ‘Highlife’ which is in the book. This line is quite relevant in both the developing world and the developed world . Also, as a president you will be well known either for good or bad reasons.

2. When the bodies disappear, discarded like the husk of mangoes

This is the opening sentence to the poem ‘Beatitude’. It paints a realistic image of neglect and how life is easily discarded in those conditions.

3. When the sun abandoned me, the sky was an iris of black glass
Nights kept me sleepless;

This was the opening line in ‘The Bee’. It is a paradoxical imagery which  paints the turmoil in a gentle beautiful manner.

4.  When the hills were on fire, there were no angels to guide us.

This line is from ‘The Second Republic’. It paints a faith based imagery in which the situation is so bad that even divinely entities cannot provide any support.

5.  Even a rock stays by the stream to curve its edges.

This line is from the poem ‘Legion’ . I believe it portrays the importance of foundation and ability to be rooted somewhere or perhaps, the harshness of events which help shapes our identity.

  • Who should read this book?
    This book should be read by adults due to the high emotional intelligence this book requires. Also, if you have an interest in the political climate of Uganda and its past, you will find this book interesting. As someone who is not Ugandan, I believe it is important to learn about other countries and gain awareness on its history. On that basis, I enjoyed reading the book.
  • Rating: Four stars

Four Stars

  • Final Thoughts

This book has been insightful in terms of writing styles. I enjoyed reading in this style of writing but found the topic to be quite dark and sad. This book may not be for you if you are emotionally sensitive. Overall, I thought it was a good read.

 

 

Book Review: Animal Farm By George Orwell

Book Review: Animal Farm By George Orwell

Animal Farm is a political fable which highlights the downfalls of some political and economic systems. Specifically in the book, it talks of a system known as Animalism. It is considered as one of Britain’s most classical stories and post- war novel.
The themes explored in this book are mainly dictatorship, power and politics.

In this blog post, I will be exploring Animal Farm in more detail.

  • What is the book about?
    Animal Farm is a highly political book which explores dictatorship and misuse of power. Indeed, there are many political interpretations to this book. However, I believe Animal Farm is about the dangers of ideologies and how something innocent or beneficial can be manipulated. In the beginning of the book, an idea through a dream is told by Old Major. This idea is that animals on the farm will solely benefit from their produce and not imitate the ‘vices of man’. A very fair, simple and liberating idea which later becomes the very cause of oppression.
  • Which part of the book was the most emotive?
    The saddest part of the book is what happens to Boxer. I won’t reveal too much BUT he was one of the most loyal and hardworking animal in the farm who strongly believed in the cause. Yet, he suffered a cruel fate. It was an emotive part of the story and a betrayal of trust. This aspect of Animal Farm got me emotive because of the distortion of events. Despite events being distorted throughout the novel, I wasn’t prepared for the distortion in Chapter 9.
  • What literary devices are used to enhance Animal Farm?
    • Songs and Poetry
      •  ‘The Beast of England’ is a powerful song to the animals which usually consoled them in times of hardship. This song reflected the morale of the animals for instance when it was sung continuously it showed how enthusiastic and liberated they felt about the movement of Animalism. In chapter 5 however, it was only sung once. This was done to illustrate the burdens of the movement.
      • The Comrade Napoleon poem was written in a style in resemblance of a hymn where Napoleon is given godlike attributes such as being omniscient as expressed in the line ‘thou watchest over all’ and ‘calm and commanding eye’. This poem praises him and further reinforces the power in which he has.
    • Symbolism
      • In chapter 5  when Napoleon takes away the debate which usually takes place on Sundays. It was symbolic of taking away their free speech and ability to think independently.
  • Who should read this book?
    Some regard this book as a children’s book and personally, I do not believe it is. I think children would not be able to fully grasp all the dimensions of this novel so I would say Young Adults and upwards. As well as anyone with an interest in politics.

This book is for you if:

  • You enjoy political books
  • Like books with a moral message
  • Want a short read
  • Want to read a classic book

This book is not for you if:

  • Dislike politics
  • Want a long read
  • Don’t want to think or analyse too much.
  • Don’t want to be pressured into reading classics

Book Review: The Sun And Her Flowers By Rupi Kaur

Book Review: The Sun And Her Flowers By Rupi Kaur

The Sun And Her Flowers is a poetry collection written by Rupi Kaur. This collection deals with a range of topics such as love, migration, self esteem, beauty and more importantly nature. These themes are discussed in an open, vulnerable and candid manner.

We discover the reason the collection is titled ‘The Sun and Her Flowers’ in page 173 where Kaur writes:

what is it with you and sunflowers he asks
i point to the field of yellow outside
sunflowers worship the sun i tell him
only when it arrives do they rise
when the sun leaves
they bow their heads in mourning
that is what the sun does to those flowers
it is what you do to me
-the sun and her flowers

This poetry collection is not for you if:

  • You enjoy poetry that makes you think deeply about the message rather than be given the message.
  • You enjoy the use of punctuation to enhance poetry.
  • You enjoy analysing the poetry that you read.
  • You did not enjoy Milk and Honey

This poetry collection is for you if:

  • You are new to poetry and want to be exposed to different styles of poetry
  • You enjoy affirmations infused with poetry
  • You enjoy free verse and like poets who write in a similar manner to Rupi Kaur
  • You enjoyed the first book ‘Milk and Honey’

In reading this collection, I admire Rupi’s honesty in sharing her experiences and writing from a place which evokes emotion. I would like to add that despite the controversy that writers such as Rupi Kaur are not proper poets, it evokes the question of why do they have such a massive audience?

Overall, I would rate this collection as a three out of five because it entertained me on my journeys to and from work and it was a quick and simple read.