Still Standing by Jasmynne Shaye

Still Standing

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This collection of poems and accompanying essays explores the joy and pain of relationships.

In her debut work, Shaye compiles 15 poems that contemplate the challenges and benefits of the relationships in our lives. In both free verse and rhyme, her narrator yearns for a lover from a distance, casts aside a fickle friend, strives to reconnect with family and more. Many of the poems boast evocative descriptions in succinct lines. In “Blue Moment,” each stanza employs three lines describing the relationship, concluding with the revelation that this beloved person has passed away: “buckets of retreat— / volumes of safety— / slivers of deceit— / i’m missing you lately.” However, some of the poems are too simplistic, employing lists of clichés rather than memorable imagery or passages. The bland “A Wish,” for example, starts every line with the word “wishing”: “Wishing I was holding you... / Wishing you were here right now, or wishing I was there. / Wishing we were breathing from the same supply of air. / Wishing we were having some kind of secret love affair.” Despite their occasionally tired phrasing, the poems have a winning sincerity and openness—excluding the disturbing “How Do You Write A Poem?” which describes molestation, racism, suicide and self-harm in no uncertain terms, then concludes, “You have to hate yourself. / You have to love solitude. / You have to love your pen. / You have to live.” However, what sets Shaye’s poetry collection apart is the series of accompanying essays exploring each poem in greater detail. A tactic that initially seems indulgent, it actually proves quite charming. “A Closer Look: ‘Invisible’ ” explores that titular poem and inspires readers to develop their own confidence rather than worrying about what other people think. Yet other essays—such as “A Closer Look: ‘Blue Moment’ ”—are so positive that they seem at odds with the somber subject matter of their respective poems. Overall, this collection may not impress die-hard poetry devotees, but readers looking for easy-to-digest nuggets of motivation may savor it.

Endearing and inspiring despite clichés and weak points.

Pub Date: Dec. 18th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0615909196
Page count: 74pp
Publisher: Tasty Chuckle Publications
Program: Kirkus Indie
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