Poetry is difficult to review. Poetry is emotion put to the page. How do you judge how someone expresses emotion? In the end, you don’t. Well, I don’t. I am not a poet, nor am I fully versed on the intricacies of poetry, so I don’t rate on a technical level. Poetry is as good as the emotion it elicits.
Unfortunately the emotions this collection of poetry elicits from me are mostly cringe. I try to find something positive to say about every book that I review, especially when I’ve received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for that review, but this one is proving to be a challenge. Rodriguez pours his heart out on the page in the form of poems and photos much like the example above. The poetry is reminiscent the words scrawled in a teenager’s journal with
me + you scrawled in the margins over and over again. It brings up memories of scrolling through my LiveJournal feed back in the day. There are black and white photos throughout the collection, most are of a young man doing couple things on his own. Grabbing his own belt loop. Clawing at his own back. Photos of oranges. Squeezing them, biting them, gnawing on strips of peel. The whole thing is amateurish and unrefined.
But you know what, Rodriguez really put himself out there and that is admirable. The only way to get good at something is to be bad at something and keep doing it until you hit your stride. This is his first book and it does hold little glimmers of potential.
There are a couple instances where he takes a poem and writes it in English and Spanish in opposite directions. It is a format I find myself drawn to, even if the poem itself is not great. I am not fluent enough in Spanish to recognize if it is more impactful in Spanish. These dual lingual poems are my favorites of this book.
All that said, it feels like that first heartbreak when your emotions are all over the place because you haven’t learned how to cope yet.
⭐️⭐️. It’s okay. There is an audience for this, but I’m not it.