In a world equipped with the opportunity to self-publish it’s a toss up – will this poetry speak to me? Will it be riddled with cliches and faux profundity? One never knows. This collection from K. Y. Robinson is a mixed bag, neither the best nor the worst that I’ve read.
I got this book via Goodreads Giveaways, signed by Robinson and everything. The circumstance of having received this book directly from the author makes giving it a mixed review a little more painful, but necessary nonetheless.
I was starkly disappointed the farther that I read – the first two poems in the collection grabbed me, I was ready for a devastating book. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel very satisfied by the time I finished it. Robinson addresses so many of my favorite subjects; topics in this collection range from her cultural background and her childhood to her victimhood to her sexual agency. There was so much potential here!
Like e. e. cummings, Robinson doesn’t capitalize anything throughout the course of the collection, including her name. I consider that a bit of a bold move, though it’s totally stylistic. Overall, this element of the collection didn’t really profoundly affect the way it read, but I considered it worth note. For the most part she seems to be a free form poet. I didn’t catch much meter, but I did catch (and promptly take issue with) a good deal of rhyming.
There were so many great lines in this collection, but time and time again they were muddied by forced rhymes or other, weaker lines and images. In some poems Robinson is specific, uses images, and doesn’t force random rhyme patterns; I’ve dogeared (gasp) roughly a dozen very strong poems and took a mental note of dozens of stanzas that were incredible even when the entire poem wasn’t so concisely written. Don’t get me wrong, I have no issue with rhymes that don’t detract from the diction of a piece, but in multiple instances it was clear that the rhyme scheme in a poem took precedence over the strength of the language itself.
There were even a (slim) few instances in which it seemed that Robinson misused words (ie. “lynching” instead of “leeching” in “certain men” pg. 67). I hate to be harsh, but this collection was definitely in need of some polishing prior to publishing.
When Robinson didn’t limit herself by attempting an unnecessary rhyme or muddle things with cliches, her work shone as unique. I truly hope to see more from her in the future and see how her writing evolves.
My top five poems in the collection were “blood,” “1.7.93,” “charcoal,” “smoke,” and “gun and broom.”
Overall I give the book a 5/10.