Poetry Review

Poetry Review: Head Off & Split 

Sometimes, I feel like I’m on a life-long quest to convince people to give poetry another chance. For some reason, so many people I encounter have such negative views about poetry: perhaps PTSD from high school English classes or negative experiences with overly obscure poetry. A lot of people don’t find poetry accessible, especially contemporary poetry. While I’m not always a fan of the extremely ambiguous or minimalist poetry that is pretty trendy right now, I find that there are still lots of poets who employ beautiful, spellbinding imagery and emotion. One collection that really spoke to me recently because of its clear and powerful message is Head Off & Split by Nikky Finney.

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This collection won a well-deserved National Book Award, and it is a truly inspiring collection of poems that focus on civil rights, racial relationship, and even family dynamics. So many of these poems feel deeply personal, especially the title poem which was mesmerizing. Finney is an amazing poet who has been overshadowed until recently, but this collection is surely going to keep her in the limelight for a while. I would definitely recommend this collection to anyone who either loves poetry or who wants to explore how modern poetry relates to the present political climate. Poetry has always been used as a way to critique society, and Finney continues that tradition today.

Book Review

Poetry Review: The Rain in Portugal

Billy Collins is absolutely one of the best contemporary poets, and his latest collection The Rain in Portugal does a lot of work to show off his strengths.

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Billy Collins is a masterful poet, and he is able to play with convention successfully. In fact, the title of the book is a play on the traditional rhyme, “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.” Most contemporary poetry does not rhyme, and Collins’ deliberate mockery of rhyme with his title and the the title poem works because he understands the rules enough to break them.

This poetry collection of 160 pages would be a great primer for anyone who wants to try to experience poetry. While Collins does play around with convention, he does not take it to the extremes as some contemporary poets do. He is one of the most accessible poets that is out there, and he is perfect for beginners. While his poems are fraught with meaning, they are easy to understand at their surface and they do a lot to prevent reader alienation. This is one of the best collections I’ve read in a long time.