Here is a different one for today, a book review. If you have stuck with me in my inconsistent blogging journey the last review you read from me was the other book of this wonderful author, Matthew Williams. His first book titled Something Changed found itself on my lap nearly two years ago kindly gifted by Matt in return for an honest review. (Click here to check out that review too!)
His second book has found itself to my lap just the same. However, I shall add it does not alter the review that I am going to give. I also would have bought the book myself had Matt not kindly been in touch with me.
So now to the good stuff…
A Familiar Stranger, unlike Matt’s first book, is a poetry collection made up of 4 chapters including a wealth of poems that address the ups, downs, and in-betweens of life. Each chapter paired with a delicate illustration each telling their own story through precisely placed lines.
The aesthetics of the book are all I could wish for personally, clean, yet emotional. Not too much, yet not too little.
The poems I want to discuss first as an entirety. Many poetry collections of such length divided into varying topics or subjects can find themselves disconnected and as a reader, I can be left questioning the relevance of one chapter to the next beyond the author. Matts book, however, tells a story, from reading his blog, it tells his story. Despite the lack of similarity between living and loving, falling and rising, as the chapters are titled, the book flows from start to finish.
Like most people when reading poetry I read it back to front and side to side in no apparent order, I began this one at the beginning, as I do all my books, and kept turning pages. As I began the book the other evening I could see the shifts and the process as the chapters developed and the transitions from one emotional experience to another that life forces and gifts us with to face and overcome. Though each poem and each chapter stand alone as fantastic works of poetry.
The book as a whole also is exquisitely constructed to also reflect the rollercoaster of emotions and seemingly correct chaos of life.
As I mentioned above the poetry all stands alone, with poems of various styles aiding the engaging and effectiveness of the book in telling the story it does. With both short and powerful poems and longer, equally thought inducing complex works of art. As I looked back through the book before I took to review its relatability shone through as I highlighted poems in each chapter of all styles with rhyme and without.
I would describe Matt’s poetry collection as modern, diverse and a story.
My personal favourite from each chapter is below…
(For anyone who would like to be nosey and has or is going to invest in the book.)
Living: This is me. (page 28)
Loving: Priceless. (page 59)
Falling: Where dreams go to die. (page76)
Rising: To know what it is to be broken. (page 132)
Here is a little more about what I thought of the chapters. I find it hard to be critical of literature, poetry and any form of art as it is all subjective. That said this book for me did at times fail to strike a chord.
Poetry to me is about emotion and a personal connection, and though a lot of the poems did this, unlike some collections regularly I found a poem I didn’t have an instantaneous connection with. I found the chapters living and rising most powerful.
Although that does make sense to an extent with loving being something at 19 my life hasn’t had thrust upon itself yet at full capacity. I was shocked though to not find more common ground within ‘Falling’ with my own battle against anxiety. Though as I said, in the majority, my copy is covered in highlights!
A Familiar Stranger will be a book I turn to regularly for reminders of hope, love, and support in moments of darkness. I am not only grateful for it to be a new part of my ever-growing poetry library but I am also grateful for the friendship I have in Matt.
I would suggest anyone invest in Matt’s works and follow him on social media, in a world that at times is oh so heavy and painfully dark he shines a light.
I shall end this post with Matt’s wise words… “Dream with your eyes open”
Today Tomorrow Forever,