In this first collection of poetry from writer Tabitha Vohn there is a wide range of both skill and emotion. Known more of her prose, Vohn has ventured into poetry, which she says she’s been turning to since she was 15 years old. Unlike many collections of poetry this particular book includes a forward to put the rest of the writing into context. I personally have mixed feelings about the inclusion of the forward, which details the writer’s intention and her emotional connection to the work. I some books a forward is necessary, especially ones that work with historical events or obscure details, but on personal collections I tend to think they pull the readers out of the book. A forward for a collection such as this subconsciously tells the reader how to feel instead of allowing the reader to simply feel; it puts a barrier up between the writer and the reader, preventing the reader from seeing themselves in the poems.
But that is a lot of talk about a forward and not the actual poetry. Onward. The poems within the collection read in a very linear fashion, as evidence by both the evolution of skill and emotion. As informed by the forward the first section, titled “Every Word From Your Mouth is a Heart Song,” feels like juvenilia. Thematically the poet tackles the aftermath of a death that is close to her heart when she was a teenager. The poems themselves feel very much like they were written by a teenager. This may serve as a boon for the collection, helping to demonstrate sincerity, but it can also be a bit distracting. If you read with an open mind the raw youth of the poems is heartfelt, or you may find them distracting.
The later poems show more poise-it is clear that the writer’s skill grew other time. There is also a more nuanced use of imagery, especially in the section “Forest Tales.”
Overall I could go either way on this book. It’s decent enough and I enjoyed it, but not sure if I would dive in for a re-read.
Dog Eared Pages:
14, 18, 24, 27, 29, 35, 36, 38, 46, 48, 55, 57, 73
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