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ARC Review: becoming By Reenada Williams

ARC Review: becoming By Reenada Williams

I love poetry in every shape and form. Free verse, contemporary poetry is my favorite form of poetry, because of the strong emotional appeals they contain, their turn of phrase, their rhythm and their distinct dissonance.

So when I got my hands on becoming by Reenada Williams, I was truly excited. The synopsis itself seemed promising:

Everyone understands that life is hard, but self-love and dedication will always be the key.

Becoming. is a beautiful debut collection of poetry centering around themes of feminism, sexuality, race, and mental health. Renaada Williams’s 100+ poems are short, personal, emotional tributes to the things that make us different and a celebration of all the things that make us the same. A journey through life, love, and loss, becoming. reminds the reader that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Unfortunately, and I don’t know what euphemism to use here, William’s short poems were more like tumblr entries and Instagram captions than actual poetry. To be perfectly honest, they were rather generic. Here’s one short quote from the book.

cried myself to sleep
while you
lay next to me

Modern poetry is relaxed and has plenty of freedom. Modern poetry often involves breaking sentences into phrases or stanzas. I know all of this. However, good modern poetry uses that particular style to create dissonance–something that, when overused (as was in this book), just feels like lazy writing.

ARC Review: becoming By Reenada Williams

It’s such a shame, because one of the best things about modern poetry is its potential to be unique–there are little to no restrictions, so you have the freedom to turn your words into art in a million and one different ways.

Just like when writing a novel, poetry comes to life with the poet’s clever use of metaphors, similes, narration styles, alliteration, rhythm and rhymes (or occasionally, the lack of rhymes). Without the use of at least one or more of these writing techniques, there’s no life to poetry–or any form of literature for that matter. Take a look at some of Amanda Lovelace’s works–though I am not her biggest fan (I am more of a Phil Kaye or Brendan Constantine kinda girl), some of her poems are truly breathtakingly beautiful, and nearly all of them attempt to connect with the reader’s emotions or stimulate the reader’s imagination with vivid imagery.

Furthermore, the poetry book is essentially about growth, about transformations and learning but because of how unorganized the book is, it’s hard to see any of those things. There’s virtually no story, no start-to-finish narrative. Now this wouldn’t have been a problem if the individual poems had a message, or a story or any kind of point to them at all. Take Sarah Kaye’s No Matter The Wreckage for instance; the book itself has no story but the individual poems inside do. At the very least they are able to properly touch on the topics the poet wanted to talk about. But sadly, because of how short and generic the poems in the becoming are, very few of them managed to properly touch on all the interesting themes the synopsis had promised.

Anybody can write sentences about pain and heartbreak and growth. But not everything they write can be classified as a poem. As contradictory as it may seem, even with the abundance of freedom in free verse modern poetry, there are still a few rules and tools you will need to write a contemporary poem.

Perhaps readers who are absolutely new to poetry will enjoy Renaada Williams book. Fans of Rupi Kaur might enjoy them too. Regardless, I still cannot bring myself to recommend it to anybody, even those who are exploring the genre–I’d recommend Elizabeth Acevado, or Andrea Gibson or Aracelis Girmay instead.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of this book or the content of this review.

ARC Review: becoming By Reenada Williams



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