3 out of 4 stars
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Sticks and Stones is a collection of poetry and prose by Chelsea DeVries. The works are about the toxicity of DeVries’ former job and its destructive impact on her mental health. The book also highlights the pain of feeling an unrequited love for a colleague. In this book, poetry serves as an instrument to tell a story about finding the courage to stand up against oppression and the strength to overcome internal struggles.
DeVries chose to write in free verse. Like many contemporary poets, she toys with her line breaks by utilizing the enjambment style. Those who dislike this style may find it difficult to appreciate these poems. Towards the middle of the book, the author provided a context in prose form, which was accompanied by photographs as well.
What I like the most is the author’s authenticity. The way the author bled all over these pieces was evident in her tone and choice of words. She made the poems very personalized and tailored to her own experiences, creating a coherent story throughout the collection. Unlike many poets, she does not conceal her sentiments behind highfalutin words. I managed to decode the poems with ease, as the author wrote as close to the ordinary language as possible. I also appreciated the themes DeVries chose to employ in her writing. While she writes about romantic emotions, she also conveys more profound topics, like harassment, sexuality, and mental health. “Fight on, Fighter” and “Black Canvas” are my favorite poems in the collection. They speak of how the author uses writing as a coping mechanism, which is a sentiment that resonates with me as someone who also seeks refuge in written words.
An anthology is difficult to fully appreciate, though, as it contains an assortment of works. While I liked some of these poems, I wasn’t able to relish most of them. The diction is much too simple to leave an impact. I understood the sentiments, but for the most part, it failed to get a hold of my emotions. Also, I enjoy poems that skillfully use concrete images to convey abstract concepts. In this collection, there are some brilliant metaphors and symbols, but there are also weak and repetitive ones. The comparison of someone’s laugh to music, for example, was used countless times throughout the text. These are what I dislike about this book.
I commend the author for the courage to deliver an honest story that will empower many others. I would rate Sticks and Stones: Poetry and Prose 3 out of 4 stars. The author created a story out of these poems, which I found interesting. I also appreciated the profound themes in the collection. The editing was satisfactory, as I found only a few errors. Sadly, I had to subtract a star due to its shortcomings. Regardless, I think poetry enthusiasts who adore poems about love and empowerment will find this book a pleasurable read. I do not recommend this to readers who have an aversion to free verse and the use of enjambment in poetry.
STICKS AND STONES: Poetry and Prose
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