Book Review: we carry the sky by McKayla Robbin

 

I was offered a complimentary copy of We Carry the Sky by McKayla Robbin in exchange for an honest review.

This poetry book is full of small but mighty poems. There are themes, sometimes subtle, sometimes loud, about feminism, abuse, acceptance, body, healing etc. Some of the poems are extremely short, and many do not have titles—this confused me at first, because the titles are also at the end of poems, so I wasn’t always certain which poems were more than one page, since the title was at the end (maybe I’m still confused, and many of these were actually long poems, but it doesn’t matter and sorry for the long ramble on it)—I didn’t even mind my confusion once I got immersed in the words. I enjoyed this collection of poetry, though its different than a lot of other poetry I’ve read, in that many of the poems are very literal, and do not rely on much figurative language, which I was actually pleasantly surprised by in parts (because I’ve been told that about my own work and it is almost reassuring to see someone else do this). There were many good poems, and several great. One of my favs from We Carry the Sky:

since we last spoke

i have threaded my sorrow

into a sweater

and i am learning, i think,

to wear it

without letting it break me

but I also loved lines such as:

dancing is how your soul remembers to love your body

and

forget everything you learned before

your body is not a war

it is a celebration

Some of these poems are haunting, some are gentle. Since reading this book, I have added to the poetry books already on my shelves to include another five titles, and I have to say, this is one of my favorites of the new books. I’m really glad the author sent me this book to review (and I’m sorry I forgot to ask her to sign it! boo).

4 stars for a collection of poetry that has something to say.

 

First, I Was a Poet

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👆 (Yep, that’s me. Try to ignore my faux-surprised late 90s selfie, and check out the literal writing on the wall)

Before I ever wrote fiction, I was a lover of poetry. I grew up reading the words of Maya Angelou, Langdon Smith, Shakespeare, Francis Euclide, and more. I cut out the lyrics from CD inserts and saved them. In high school I took permanent marker and wrote my favorite quotes and poems all over my bedroom walls. (Yes, my parents were cool.)

I wrote poetry during my angsty, broken-hearted teen years. I wrote poetry during times of happiness, but, more frequently, when I was struggling. It was an outlet to release my emotions in a productive, creative way.

A couple years ago, my poem The Game of Life was published by Literary Mama. It was written during a time I was going through recurrent pregnancy loss. Many of my poems center around understanding and accepting my own body, from puberty to post-partum. I write about pregnancy, miscarriage, sexuality, body shame and pride, and what makes sense to me as a woman, and a mother. I write as I see, as I feel, and I hope my work resounds with others. I don’t have the training that many, wonderful poets have. But I write from my heart, and I’m pushing myself as a poet to grow my skills.

The news here, is that I have decided to release my first collection of poetry. The collection is called Like Waves, and is slated for release April 26th, 2017. I have absolutely gorgeous cover art (no sneak peeks yet guys, sorry!) and a wonderful new editor who I will be likely working with again for this manuscript. I plan to release at least in e-book and paperback, but potentially hardcover as well.

But, Amanda, you say, that’s over 6 months from now. Why so far off?

Well, when you think about it, 6 months is really not that far away. I still have a lot of revision to do. I don’t want to rush it. Spring seems like a great time, a new beginning. A perfect time to release my collection. I also need to save some funds (because DAMN) so that I can turn out the best possible book for you, my readers. In addition, I want to build some buzz! I’ll be reaching out to book bloggers and review sites to see I can get a little excitement going before the book is released. If you’re interested in reviewing Like Waves somewhere around January (once I’m hoping to be done editing), please let me know!

Thanks for sharing in my news. I can’t wait to share my words with you!

 

Amanda

 

 

Finally Someone is Willing and Excited to Publish One of My Poems!

(Otherwise titled: YAY!!!!)

I have mentioned before I started writing poetry at age 14. I never took a poetry class in school or studied how to write poems, or even checked out the Poetry for Dummies book. Okay, I actually did check that book out (once) but I never got around to reading it. The point is, I considered my education on poetry to be just simply loving it. I read and enjoyed the works of so many. Maya Angelou was always my favorite poet. But there are so many more- Rita Dove, Mary Oliver, Francis Euclide, Shakespeare, Jewel, and other song-writers. My favorite poem ever is “Evolution” by Langdon Smith, which you can read here.

But I don’t mean that to come out as I think I’m beyond formal education. I love school, and miss taking classes, and learning and broadening my mind. I simply mean it never occurred to me (somehow) to study poetry. Poetry to me came as fluidly and as naturally as breathing. I turned to it during every heartbreak, every sadness, every joy. It wasn’t anything I second-guessed.

And then I began submitting.

And I found out I wasn’t all that great at it, apparently.

You see, although as a writer, I certainly know the difference between metaphors and similes and use imagery in my fiction, it was lacking in my poetry. And it still is. I naturally tend to be a poet who creates more literal works. You can generally, as a stranger, read a poem of mine and figure out what it means. Sure, sometimes I use “light” to symbolize “happiness” or compare my grandmother’s fertility to that of a ripe fruit, but most of the time, I say what I mean and I mean what I say. And that’s not smart poetry, and it’s not all that popular with magazines and journals. And maybe that means I’m no good. But…

During all my rejections of poetry submissions, there’d inevitably be some encouragement. I got close a couple of times, with a couple different blogs or journals. I received such lovely, positive rejections such as:

“Beautiful and poignant”

“Wonderful selection”

“Powerful”

“Very reminiscent of the writings of Adrienne Rich” (great compliment, btw)

“Appreciate the tenderness at the root of each poem”

Of course those were all followed with the bad b word. BUT.

But.

Dig deeper. Explore more. Push. MORE MOTHERFUCKING METAPHORS, please.

However, I have finally gotten an acceptance from the wonderful site Literary Mama. They will publish my poem “The Game of Life” come October, for their “Desiring Motherhood” issue. For those of you that don’t know, October is also National Miscarriage and Infant Loss Awareness Month.

I am excited and flattered to be included. And I’m proud for getting acceptance on a poem I had rejected enough prior. Now, I am continuing to work on my older poems, to polish them, to overhaul them, to hack away at the weak spots and make them into something both recognizable and fresh. I do want to dig deeper. To push myself. But I will always probably write a little too simply for most of the journals. And that’s okay. What I care about most is reaching the everyday person. Making someone who hasn’t studied poetry for years, care about my words. Cry. Laugh. Scream. Feel something. And of course, I write it for me.