Truly Praise-Worthy Poetry

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Buy it from Amazon, or from the publisher!

Title: Begin With a Failed Body
Author: Natalie Graham
Type: Poetry
Length: 90 pages
Published by: University of Georgia Press
Pub date: Sept 15th, 2017
Format: PDF
Source: A digital copy was provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating: ★★★★★

See other ratings and reviews on Goodreads!


The short version: This is a fantastic collection of poetry that absolutely deserves the award it was given! (Learn more about the Cave Canem Prize here.)

The long version:

“We become terrain. First a body,
then a shrine,
then a road marker
furnishing a crowded landscape.”

-“The Way of the Shrine”

Holy cannoli! This was an amazing poetry collection. I took so long to read it because I wanted to absorb every word!

This book explores what it means to live in a body that has failed the speaker by simply existing. Writing this exploration through a series of memories, dreams, and even biblical, historical, and fairytale figures, this collection makes the reader feel like they can relate to the speaker’s struggles, while reminding them that they may never be able to fully understand it.

Natalie Graham is, without a doubt, a master of her craft. Her lines were incredibly lyrical; the assonance and internal rhyme and rhythm had me hanging on every word, not one of which was wasted. There were times when something was worded so perfectly, I actually got goosebumps and had to walk away for a little while.

“But, Keeper, all names are curses.

You know how my body arches for the faithful,
brutal touch of almost family,
how the skin hollers to be rubbed
quiet with hurting.”

-“Cinderella Sends Her Godmother Away”

With only 44 poems, this collection isn’t too long, but there is so much meaning layered into such a short read! I will definitely be rereading this myself, and can’t wait to get a hard copy to put on my shelves.

Seriously guys, for poetry veterans and newbies alike, I cannot recommend this collection highly enough.


Thanks for reading!

What was the last poetry book you read? Are you interested in reading this one? Maybe you already have and can add some thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

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