How does someone define what good poetry looks like?
For some people, it’s what sounds beautiful, what makes them feel something. Even if all that can be is a little less alone.
So today, I’m doing a bit of a crossover between my poetry and book review monthly features to review two poetry books: one author that seems to have become the standard, and one that I believe has decided to change the standards completely.
Here we go:
Moon Theory— Robert. M. Drake (r.m.drake)
Even if you don’t know this author, you’ve probably seen his work, whether it’s through tattoos, plastered onto city walls, popping into instagram feeds, or dyed onto a T shirt. He may have started small, but he didn’t stay that way for long.
I have been reading r.m. drake’s books since I was in high school, coming across the typewriter script through Instagram. This man was the beginning of a new kind of poetry for me. Even more than beautiful imagery and poetic words, his writing is a genuine ode to living and breathing in the world the way we do— through every little things that makes us who we are.
Over the years, I’ve collected each one his books, buying four more back in April before I realized there was another four I am still yet to own. When asked to write of my inspirations for art in a Junior year drawing and painting class, among Monet and Picasso, he was one of them. I said “His use of expression in his writing is indescribably eye opening and influential to the way I write and think.” In a quote from his book, there are little bits of what we all need reminders of sometimes:
“Find the courage to find your better days, and never lost track of the laughter that’s meant to find you.”
As an ode to Self Love, Moon Theory holds at least one secret for each one of us. While many poets, myself included, make the mistake of writing things that are too redundant or obvious, Drake does not do the same. He writes things that should be obvious, but somehow aren’t until someone tells us the truth. His books can be that truth. Through this book, I think everyone can find something to relate to, something they need to hear, and in the end it can make people feel a little less alone.
That’s what poetry is, isn’t it? If you want to know more about the author, check him out here.
I wrote this for you— Iain S. Thomas
I bought this book on a whim last summer— having a B&N in my hometown after so long without a bookstore really tests my self-control and my credit card— because I wanted to know if the dark, ambiguous cover lying in my hands held much of the same within its leaves. It didn’t.
This writer is different, his aim not even to write poetry but to write something and create something new, as he does with each of his works. This book, published back in 2011, was his first and it started off as a blog that was just for fun between him and his friend. Over time, it became so much more than that.
These days I have seen a lot of artistic takes on poetry, many of which combine some kind of drawing with the words they decide to put on a page. Thomas combined his words with photos taken by a friend Jon who was living in Japan. I found myself flipping through the book yesterday, taking in the photos and the abstract changes that occur through the book from his style and positioning choices. I found a quote that’s so hard to explain:
“The least you can do, is uncross your heart. Unhope to die.”
He’s not wrong.
Between Thomas and Drake, their writing is beautiful and true. Nothing short of words that need to be heard. This anthology is nothing short of honest, in a dark and sometimes beautiful, though often sad, sort of way. But in a time of so much change and too many lies, his truth is refreshing. It’s relatable. Some of the poems remind you of who you are or who you wanted to be, others take you back to the shower thoughts you had and never wrote down. But each of them hold pieces of each of us. They help spell out the human existence.
Maybe you’ll check them out and let me know what you think. See you all Friday.