4 out of 4 stars
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Arushi Singh’s poetry collection This is not for us ~ and all the things they tell you covers a wide range of topics, from abuse to love to war to poverty to family ties. The poems address universal, relevant topics, yet the author’s concentration on his own physicality, emotions, and experiences imbue the collection with a deeply personal tone. Poems like “Untitled” offer a meta-commentary on the nature of rhyming. In “Everything I Wanted”, the narrator gives a list of all the things he left unsaid, presumably to a lover, before sinking back into silence. In “#mentoo”, the author gives a heart wrenching description of his childhood abuse, and the hashtag offers a commentary on how men are often silenced in the discussion on rape.
The PDF version that I read was 67 pages long, and it was made up primarily of one page poems. A few longer ones spanned two or three pages. Due to their brevity and poignant one-liners, many of the poems reminded me of the notepad poetry you can find all over Instagram and Pinterest. For example, in “With My Eyes”, the author reflects on the cost of holding on to his dreams: “who knew the price/of dreaming/was losing my hold on reality” (page 26).
Much of Singh’s poetry centers around themes of physicality, suffering, and the body. In “Waltz #2”, he reflects: “dance is the/denial/of the body/the refusal to suffer” (page 16). Even in poems like “Syria”, a poem that paints a vivid picture of a war torn country, the author maintains a focus on his own personal, bodily experience. I enjoyed this element. I tried to find out who the author is and what inspired him (or her, though I believe it is a male) to write this collection. There is no record (or if one, very little) of the poet Arushi Singh online, and nothing whatsoever about the book.
This leads me to my one qualm with this collection. I wished for a bit more context and coherence. Though the poems were enjoyable, I don’t think I would have picked up this book if I was not reviewing it. Even if I did pick it up, I don’t think I would have kept coming back to it. I enjoyed each poem as I read it, but without a larger context to put it in, I felt like I was consuming empty calories. Reading the book was enjoyable, but the poems felt scattered. Because they cover such a wide range of themes, I had a hard time picking one to resonate with.
Still, if poetry is meant to be felt, then this collection certainly does its job. Readers who are looking for a short yet moving collection of modern poems will certainly find this collection enjoyable. There were a few errors. In “Strand” on page 15, the word “face” is spelled “fac”. In “Quote” on page 20, there’s a phrase that reads “springs soft dust” when the word “spring” should have an apostrophe. Aside from that, I noticed few errors, and the ones that did exist were not (in my mind) glaring enough to detract from my enjoyment of the work.
Because I believe the personal nature of these poems will endear them to readers, I am giving This is not for us 4 out of 4 stars. Lovers of poetry will certainly appreciate Arushi Singh's unique musings on the nature of the world.
This is not for us
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