Review: Transformations by Anne Sexton

The fairy tale-based works of the tortured confessional poet, whose honesty and wit in the face of psychological pain have touched thousands of readers. (from Goodreads.)

Personal Take: There’s something captivating and haunting about Anne Sexton’s poetry. Taking well-known fairytales, Sexton captured their dark essence in her stanzas. Much like the style she’s known for, there are elements of a tortured confession in each of her poems, beginning as if like an anecdote before launching into a familiar, but kind of new, tale. In some instances, it is a jab at the style of how fairytales are told, replacing happy endings with morbid or unhappy endings. One of the things I observed and loved when I read her poetry is the use of language. Sexton’s dark tones were, like I said, captivating and moving.

Transformations brought forth interesting twists  to the well-known fairytales that I reveled in.

Audience: Contains adult themes.

Rating:

 

Other recommendations: Anne Sexton wrote many poetry books, one of which, Live or Die, received a Pulitzer Award for Poetry.

Review: The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Vol. 2 by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Wirrow

 

Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Knight Rises, Inception, Looper, 500 Days of Summer) made a big splash with The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories – so now he’s back with volume 2! One of the most ingenious and successful projects to come out of Gordon-Levitt’s online creative coalition hitRECord – an international collaboration of artists and writers – The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 2 offers more quirky, delightfully small, ingeniously illustrated haiku-like tales, proving once more that the universe isn’t made of atoms; it’s made of tiny stories. The best things do come in small packages. (From Goodreads.)

Personal Take: After being charmed by the first volume, I couldn’t resist ordering the second, and just like the first, it was utterly irresistible to go through. The one-page stories, the impeccable pieces of artwork, and seeing how the collaboration works, it all makes this project so unique and necessary for other creatives and humans in general.

There isn’t much to describe this book other than it is filled with happiness, and that everyone who wants a shot of it should read it.

Audience: Older audience, for understanding abstract emotions.

Rating: 

Other recommendations: I’ve read and reviewed The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Volume 1, and will be reading Volume 3 soon!

Review: Arabian Love Poems by Nizar Qabbani

 

This translation of Nizar Kabbani’s poetry is accompanied by the striking Arabic texts of the poems, penned by Kabbani especially for this collection. Kabbani was a poet of great simplicity – direct, spontaneous, musical, using the language of everyday life. He was a ceasless campaigner for women’s rights, and his verses praise the beauty of the female body, and of love. He was an Arab nationalist, yet he criticized Arab dictators and the lack of freedom in the Arab world. (From Goodreads.)

Personal Take: Published posthumously, this book is a collection of Qabbani’s love poems, with its pages split in two– one side of the pages had Nizar’s original poetry in Arabic, and on the other side were the English translations. All I can say is that I’m lucky that I can read Arabic, because the English translations did his words no justice. Qabbani was definitely a genius– his Arabic poetry so piercing and straightforward, and yet profound with meaning and emotions with charming, sensual imagery.

As I was reading through his work, I enjoyed getting a glimpse of his personality, and the recurring themes of his writing. Many of the poems I read threatened to made me cry from how perfect it was.

Honestly, I can’t describe it other than that– perfect.

Audience: Older readers, as Qabbani subject matters tend to be sensual.

Rating: 

Other recommendations: Fans of Qabbani can check out his original poetry books published during his time, as well as other separate collections published after his death.

Review: Selected Poems by E.E. Cummings

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The one hundred and fifty-six poems here, arranged in twelve sections and introduced by E. E. Cummings’s biographer, include his most popular poems, spanning his earliest creations, his vivacious linguistic acrobatics, up to his last valedictory sonnets. Also featured are thirteen drawings, oils, and watercolors by Cummings, most of them never before published.

The selection includes most of the favorites plus many fresh and surprising examples of Cummings’s several poetic styles. The corrected texts established by George J. Firmage have been used throughout. (From Goodreads)

Personal Take: I’ve read bits and pieces of E.E. Cummings work, and noted the interesting stylings he applies, but never read his work as a collection. I think this may have been the hardest book I’ve ever read. While it helped that there were interluding breaks throughout the book outlining the themes of his poetry, and his experimentation with poetry and prose, a few of his pieces sometimes felt they were beyond my comprehension. It’s absolutely astounding to see how he manipulated words with visual intention in mind– and he was truly a genius for breaking the rules. His later works were my favorite though, as it were the ones that were truly in touch with his thoughts, and it’s something I found myself relating to.

E.E. Cummings is a must read poet, if only just to experience his intoned words.

Audience: Cummings explores sexuality and sexual freedom in his poetry (and much of it is objectifying the female body…), so that warrants adult readers.

Rating:

threehalfstars

Other recommendations: There are plenty of E.E. Cummings poetry collection and books published, so be sure to check them out and take your pick!

Review: Wild by Ben Okri

wild

As acclaimed for his poetic vision as for the beauty of his language, in these poems Okri captures bot the tenderness and the fragility, as well as the depths and the often hidden directions of our lives. To him, the ‘wild’ is an alternative to the familiar, where energy meets freedom, where art meets the elemental, where chaos can be honed. The wild is our link to the stars…

Ranging across a wide variety of subjects, from the autobiographical to the philosophical, from war to love, from nature to the difficulty of truly seeing, these poems reconfigure the human condition, in unusual light, through their mastery of tone and condensed brilliance. (From Goodreads)

Personal Take: There are no words to describe how much Okri’s words blew me away. Each poem was succinct and raw, beautiful as it draws on emotional imagery. The poetry takes on different subject matters, and all of them convey the depth of human pain and perseverance. This is a short book that needs to be savored, and it was well worth the emotional journey.

Though this is the first work I’ve read by Okri, I’m determined to read more of his beautiful writing.

Audience: To all poetry lovers, and those who enjoy Spoken Word.

Rating:

5stars

Other recommendations: Okri has written several books, among them is award-winning The Famished Road, but do check out more of his published work.

Review: Ode to London: Poems to Celebrate the City

Ode-to-London
“Earth hath not anything to show more fair,” enthused William Wordsworth of London, while to Lord Byron it was “the Devil’s drawing-room.” Ode to London collects a selection of paeans to England’s august capital from a veritable “Poet’s Corner,” including beloved authors like William Blake, Rudyard Kipling, Mary Robinson, and more, accompanied by beautiful illustrations of the city. From Big Ben and the Blitz spirit to red double-decker buses, here is London immortalized in verse by those who have known and loved her best. (from Goodreads)
Personal Take: I received this as a gift some years ago, and I thought it was time to pick it up. I absolutely loved the selections, which varied from really old, to the modern, and all capturing difference facets of this beautiful city. The illustrations included with each poem was also beautiful to look at. As someone who’s visited the city and walking through its street, I couldn’t help feeling that this was exactly how London felt.
This book is cumulation of beautiful work, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to marvel at the city of London through words.
Audience: Anyone who enjoys poetry and art.
4stars
Other recommendations: If you’re looking for poetry to read, I would recommend R.M Drake’s Black Butterfly and A Brilliant Madness, as well as Tyler Knott’s Chasers of the Light.

Review: A Brilliant Madness by Robert M. Drake

A Brilliant Madness

This is an anthology of collective writing from Robert M. Drake written during 2004-2014. A Brilliant Madness is a reflection of the social collapses in the 21st century. The social programming, the daily routine and the economic struggles we all go through blindly. What has happen to us? Where did all the love go? We have all gone beautifully mad in a beautifully mad world. (From Goodreads)

Personal Take: I’m such a huge fan of R.M Drake’s poetry on Intagram, and having it all in one book, with his own artwork, is just as bewitching. While I enjoyed his last anthology, Black Butterfly, I feel like this held his best collection yet. It’s still raw and haunting, but covered pretty broad topics, like society and changing times.

On some level, readers will be able relate to his words and the human experiences, even if it had darker themes, and it’s not always that way, as a few dabble with courage and nostalgia and the good old times. For me, one of the pieces particularly struck a deep chord, and I knew after reading it that this is one of my favorites.

This is one poetry collection that’s not to be missed.

Audience: It feels like he’s channeling Charles Bukowski, which means there are plenty of swear words. It also explores dark themes of humanity.

Rating: 

4stars

Other recommendations: R. M. Drake published a few books, but his well known poetry collect is Black Butterfly, which is a combination of 2 previously published book. He’s also published a collection of stories, Beautiful and the Damned.

Review: Black Butterfly by Robert M. Drake

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The Black Butterfly is a symbol of transformation and rebirth after death. Drake wrote this book for those who have lost someone in death and in life. This book is a collection of memories and experiences Drake lived after the death of one of his brothers. He promised he would write him a few words after he failed to complete the task while his brother was alive. (From Goodreads)

Personal Take: After reading the beautiful poetry of R.M Drake, I was beyond ecstatic to find out that he’d released a collection of his poetry. Even though this book was a collection of the loss he felt, it was still beautiful in the love that it described too. It’s both raw and emotional, with undertones of his intent, which comes off so strikingly. The illustrations added to its beauty as well. It’s something any person can relate to and aspire to as well.

This is a must on all shelves.

Audience: Older, as there are dark themes.

Rating: 

4halfstars

 

Other recommendations: R.M Drake recently released A Brilliant Madness, and will soon release a collection of writings, Beautiful and Damned, among other things.

Book Review: Chasers of the Light by Tyler Knott Gregson

 

When a young Tyler Knott Gregson found his first typewriter and wrote his first unedited poem, he fell in love. Now, the photographer and poet has garnered much acclaim for his beautiful words that he publishes on Instagram, and now collects them all this visual volume.

Personal Take: I’m a huge fan of Tyler Knott, and his typewriter series on instagram (if you don’t follow him, do it now!). So to have a collection of poetry and writing pieces in my hands is a dream. I love the positive messages, and just the sensual way he writes. The book is also peppered with his photography (which is his profession), and seeing the caption stories against it is beautiful.

I honestly can’t say much about it, but I do have to say– if you haven’t read this yet, you should.

Audience: Because a few of his poetry is sensual, I’d say this is for older teens and adults.

Rating: 

4stars
Other Recommendations: As of now, Tyler Knott hasn’t released anything, but will be releasing a haiku book next year, so keep an eye out for that!

Review: The Essential Neruda – Selected Poems edited by Mark Eisner

This collection of Neruda’s most essential poems will prove indispensable. Selected by a team of poets and prominent Neruda scholars in both Chile and the U.S., this is a definitive selection that draws from the entire breadth and width of Neruda’s various styles and themes.

Personal Take: Whether you’re into poetry or not, Neruda is a must for all lovers of words. His poems are SO beautiful and vivid, with so many emotions. His love poems are especially sigh-inducing and beautiful, while his nationalistic poems are heart wrenching. I can’t explain it, but the more I read, the more I could pick up the emotions and sincerity he put into his words.
As I said, I recommend you pick this up!
Audience: Older readers. His love poems have themes on physical love.
Rating: 
4stars
Other recommendations: A few things I want to read after this are: Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, 100 Love Sonnets  and The Book of Questions.