Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately by Alicia Cook

29059581Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately by Alicia Cook
Published: 2017 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Genre(s): Poetry
Pages: 240
Format: E-Galley

1.5 stars

**I’ve received a copy of this via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately is Alicia Cook’s self-published book, said to be written “over the course of 14 days” and well, I sure as hell can see that it’s been written in 14 days.

To be clear, I do applaud Cook for writing this collection to financially help the Willow Tree Center, but I will only praise this collection where praise is due. I had a lot of issues with this collection and the first one is that there is an abundance of over-used imagery. Again and again there are imagery like “car wreck”, “comb through…memories”, and “sharing a cup of coffee”, and usually, I’m fine with them, but goodness, everything feels like it’s been done to death in this collection. Moreover, the inclusion of songs for each poem is brilliant but I think that the songs should be there as a suggestion of amplifying the already present strengths that a poem has, not to bolster it because it’s weak and needs something else to make it strong.

Also, I don’t like how there’s a lot of telling here. In ‘Track Four’, there’s the repetitive “I love her…” followed by reasons why the poet loves this person. In ‘Track Ten’, we’re told that the persona has “…become accustomed to using moving boxes / as makeshift coffee tables”, and in ‘Track Sixteen, the persona states “The new normal is rarely an easy adjustment and / never truly feels, well, normal”.  I’m not against telling in poetry, but there’s just too much of it. It makes it sound less poetic and more prose-like. As another example, lines like “You always want one more day. / You always want one more picture / as the old ones begin to fade” don’t sound poetic to me at all (‘Track Two, lines 1-3). Like, where’s the flow? Look at this stanza in Dylan Thomas’s poem ‘Do not go gentle into the good night’:

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Read it out loud (or find audios of others reading it) and you will hear how it flows beautifully with one’s voice. Then, go back to this:

Just because I don’t trust you
doesn’t mean I have trust issues.
Just because I won’t commit to you
doesn’t mean I have commitment issues.
Just because I watch what I eat
doesn’t mean I have body image issues.
Just because people have left my life
doesn’t mean I have abandonment issues.
Just because I yearn to grow and evolve
doesn’t mean I have identity issues.
I know exactly who the hell I am. – Track Fourteen

Seriously, I picked up this book to read poetry, not “poetry”. I had a lot of hope since I’ve read some of the poems beforehand (as in, from the internet and not the current one I have) and I really liked them. However, many were clichéd and even the blackout poetry couldn’t make this collection better. Seeing the direction popular “poets” and aspiring ones heading towards today really breaks my heart. When many of us who are alive now, are dead and the future generations are studying the poems of our time. When the future generations are comparing us to poets ranging from Sophocles and Homer to Alexander Pope, William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou, Ezra Pound, and Yang Lian, I hope that the groups or movements that our time has created is not called the ‘black mark’ of the history of poetry.

NOTE: From the author’s ‘review’ of this title, she mentions that the first edition of this will be retired (and I’m assuming that this version of mine from Netgalley is the same as this one) so that it can be edited and traditionally published. I hope that the second edition is better than the first.




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