In this collection of poems, Shayla Raquel explores love, loss and grief. Her poems feel natural, instinctive and fall under the free verse category. Sometimes, they are long, sometimes short. Their rhythm is different from one to another, not following any sort of rules. Sometimes they rhyme, sometimes they don’t. You never know what the next poem will look like and yet, a thread connects them all.
I have read my fair share of free verse poetry, which may have had an impact on my reading experience of Raquel’s collection. If this had been my first go at this style of poetry, I may have been impressed more than I am right now. If I am being honest, this is not at the level of Rupi Kaur or Amanda Lovelace, two well-known free verse poets. Raquel’s poems, in my humble opinion, lack the “this is unique” factor that I’m looking for in poetry. It pains me to write that considering that these poems are very personal musings of the author. Although I was not blown away by the collection, I still enjoyed how beautiful and touching her poems were at times. The reader can certainly feel her loss and experience a little bit of her grief. There is an intimacy in this collection that draws you in while at the same time feels like voyeurism. However, as a non-religious person, I didn’t enjoy the presence of religious themes/symbolism, even though they were not everywhere. All in all, the collection is well organized, not too long, and easy to read.
I particularly enjoyed three of her poems. The first one, The Past Tense, Raquel explores how everyone’s grief is different, and sometimes isolating. The Day of your Funeral is a hopeful take on a difficult day for those who survive someone. My favourite though was Ocean. Out of all the poems, this was the one who felt the most refreshing. It had a different rhythm than the others and a completely different feel.
Although I do not particularly love the collection, I believe it has its merits. First, this is a great book of poetry for someone dealing with loss and grief. I think it has the power to diminish or lift the loneliness of grief by exploring common aspects of the process. It is short and can easily be read one poem per day, making it a light read (even though the themes are heavy at times).