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by Poem Kim

Pub Date: March 31st, 2013
Publisher: No Record Press

A light first collection of short, free-verse poems exploring themes of existential confusion, empirical wonder and adolescent frustration.

This work serves as a record of a willful, confident young poet’s early experiences with individual agency and artistic expression. Some of the pieces are satisfying, if predictable, early-life epiphanies laced with frustration, but the best, such as “Green” or “Blossoms,” offer soothing collages of naturalistic imagery. The collection begins and ends with observational poems about rain; the first, “Rain,” is an optimistic description of faces looking up or taking cover as people find themselves refreshed and unburdened by a sudden shower. “Rain II” is gloomier, repeating the phrase “the silly people” and employing numerous negative modifiers and cacophonous thoughts. Several of the poems reflect either a first- or second-person point of view; while the poems’ inquisitive narrative voice has a consistent tone throughout, the speaker primarily relates melancholy reminiscences, real or imagined. Broad, unknowable and sometimes ill-phrased questions appear often. In “Pepto-Bismol,” a confusing lament about social convention and the passage of time, the narrator asks, “What is more valuable? / Life? / Or memories?” In “Ember,” she wonders, “What is sorrow? / What is joy? / How do you know?” The poet does have an awareness of sound, rhythm, imagery, sensation, tone and theme, but these elements rarely all combine effectively into complete poems. Overall, the work is marked by awkward arrangements, distant emotions and vague ideas. However, readers may find this collection worth investigating as a document of a young artist’s first steps; it might also interest teenage poetry enthusiasts. Poems such as “Myself,” a simple declaration of individualism and freedom, or “Frustration,” which tells of a little brother spilling juice on homework and “a math problem so long the words start to dance,” could help initiate newcomers to the concept of free verse.

Poetry by a vibrant young voice, which may benefit from tighter technique and thematic discipline in the future.