First Poetry Book of the Year…

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Title: Neon Soul
Author: Alexandra Elle
Type: Poetry
Length: 162 pages
Published by: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Pub Date: March 21, 2017
Format: PDF
Source: A digital copy was provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

See other ratings and reviews at Goodreads, then check out the author’s website!

Short Version: I was not a fan. It might be okay if you’ve never read poetry before, but if you’re already acquainted with the genre, I’d look for something else.

Longer Version:

In her forward for this collection, Alexandra Elle explains, “Truthfully, sometimes I worry that I can’t grab onto my colors because I’m not broken anymore. There’s a lingering fear that being whole threatens my creative voice.” This collection is an exploration of whether being whole, in fact, improves her life and voice, instead of diminishing them.

In my view, poetry should deal with abstract topics through concrete means. There were a few great poems with a few great lines that actually did this. One of my favorites was in “sixteen-year-old self,” where, when talking about love, the speaker says, “love does not require/you to misplace your map or directions/or identity–/it is not permission to lose your way home.” I loved lines and poems like this because, while I am not a huge fan of any sort of love poetry, it presented love in a unique way and let us view love through the very real and relatable sensory feelings of maps and being lost. If all of her poems had been like this, Neon Soul would have easily been at least four stars.

Unfortunately, they were not. Out of 143 pages of poetry, I liked about 30. At the risk of seeming insensitive, the rest seemed like angsty-teenage Facebook posts. To me, a poet’s job is to take a feeling we’ve experienced, and put it into words we never had to describe that feeling, so that when you read it, you kind of go, “YES! That is what I was feeling, but I never knew how to describe it until now.” That doesn’t happen often in this collection.

At one point, a page is dedicated to a poem where the entire poem is just, “there will be many–/or maybe a few…/who won’t ever love you./ and then there will be one/who will.” That was the entire poem. And I just wanted to shout “I KNOW THAT!! I could’ve written that! Explain it to me with words and images I wouldn’t see or use myself!” The only way I know how to describe it is to say that I can’t start asking questions about the stars until I have seen the night. You can’t expect me to go along on an emotional exploration of love until you give me a sensory explanation of it. Because most of the poems were like this, I couldn’t really get into it, and couldn’t bring myself to give this book higher rating.

The end of this book had several poetry prompts, so if you are looking for your very first book to get you into reading or writing poetry, I could understand choosing this one. But if you’re someone who is already acquainted with the poetry genre, I would probably give this one a pass.

Overall, I gave this book 1 star: