Cover Image: Devil's Lake

Devil's Lake

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Member Reviews

This is a book of poems: poems I understood, peoms I didn't, poems that made me give a strange look and poems that made me stare at a wall. Rating this book was difficult because I have mixed feelings. On the surface, I can't see any change this book did to me. But deep down, I know it's activated a cold volcano. The words used really worked out in some poems but some of them seemed way too personal and as a reader, they just came to me as something that wasn't meant for me. But I actually liked it because even though the poems didn't feel like they were written for the reader, I still took away something from them. I refuse to believe that the author didn't do this intentionally. For someone who rarely reads and enjoys poetry, Devil's Lake was a good book.
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I received this book on NetGalley, and I didn't really know what to expect. I enjoyed the poetry and the way the author told layered stories through them some of the poems hit harder than others, and overall, it was okay. Nothing necessarily wrong with this book, but poetry has to consistently resonate with me for me to truly enjoy it fully.
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I really enjoyed this poetry collection. Full transparency, I'm a poetry snob and super picky about poetry I read. Going into "Devil's Lake" I knew nothing and didn't know what to expect but what I got was so much more than what I could have expected. Sala does an amazing job composing complex, storytelling poems that need a few reads to fully understand that many layers and the depth in each piece. I am a huge fan of the many different styles used throughout the book, it kept the reading experience fresh. The poems were raw, emotional, complex, and queer. I truly enjoyed this collection and I want to add a physical copy to my collection asap!

Thank you to NetGalley and Tolsun Books for providing me with an e-arc "Devil's Lake" by Sarah M. Sala in exchange for an honest review.
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Sadly, I really didn't get on well with this collection. I could absolutely tell that they were important poems, covering challenging topics - I'm always especially glad to read queer literature. However I found the writing really tricky to engage with. I felt my understanding of the poetry was limited, which really distanced me from the meaning and effect in each poem. I'm so sad that it felt like the poetry was landing on deaf ears, as it deserves an understanding reader and for some reason I couldn't provide that. 

However, I did particularly enjoy the blanked out letter poems - a brilliantly interesting and engaging conceptual form that pulled me in immediately as I desperately wanted to piece together what might be hidden behind each black block - and I loved what was made out of the remaining words.
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Powerful raw and real life problem poems. Highly recommend. Quick read.   I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
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I think that I misread the description because I had no idea that this was a book of poems. Some of the poems were well written, some touched me, and some were hard for me to understand. This is why I gave it 3 stars.
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This collection had many amazing poems, though some just didn't quite connect with me. I found the formatting of some of these poems interesting and effective. Great collection!
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2/5 stars. This poetry collection was not particularly bad, but it wasn’t all that good either. The writing was a bit hard to connect with and/or understand. The poetry was centered around the lgbtqia+ community and just being queer in general though which I thought was amazing.
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This collection of poems provided a wide range of approaches to looking at a variety of subjects, including but not limited to: queerness, womanhood, nature, and love. Overall, it was an interesting blend of information in a nice style of poetry, but nothing which I read was particularly profound, and it didn’t leave a huge impact on me as most poetry typically does. I did really enjoy the use of science as a perspective, and it was a wonderful, quick, read, but there are also major content warnings necessary, and I did not end up connecting with the message of any of the poems themselves.
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This collection of poems delves into what it is to be human, now, in the wreckage of what we built in turns brutal, beautiful, and expansive. These poems hit their brightest, most lyrical stride when they reach into the cosmos for both metaphor and reflection. That said, the line that will resonate for awhile, from a poem about connection lost, the shape of space between us, from the poem Untraceable: “I wish a thousand kindnesses in you. Untraceable, back to me.”
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Formatting issues (I could only read it through the Adobe app, couldn't enlarge the type, and many words overlapped such that they were difficult to read) affected my ability to immerse in the poems. That said, I'm not sure better formatting would have made for a more enjoyable read. The images were repetitive, most of the poems lacked the musical quality that typically makes reading poetry pleasurable, and the author's point of view didn't feel particularly special or interesting. Overall, it was fine. 2.5 stars.
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Devil's Lake is an incredible short poetry book full of powerful and moving work. With a heavy emphasis on female/female relationships and queerness, this is a poetry book that will find a place amongst the lesbian poetry greats. This poetry book is about more than lady love through, it deals with a variety of concepts including gun violence. The poems are raw, real, and very relevant to today.
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I did not really like this collection, I think it had some alright poems but none of them really connected with me and some of them just absoletly made no sense. I didn't like the poems that had to be read by me turning my phone I felt that to be super annoying. I dreaded getting through the last few pages.
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Thank you Netgalley for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange of an honest review.

 This is a book that is kind of hard to follow. I struggled to do so. It had science references at moments and hard words that i didn't understand being English my second language. After i got comfortable with the author's writing style and had opened a dictionary it went smoother but still its really hard to understand some of the poems so beware when you start reading the book that you need to be familiar with poetry.

I am gonna be honest and say that there were poems i did not enjoy. However, some of them made me cry.  The topics vary from science to sexuality to harsher themes such as shootings and an attack agiants two girls that left one of them dead.

I did enjoy the book but i wasn't ready for the difficulty it had so i didn't enjoy it as much as i could. Still, iw ould highly recommend it to people qho like poetry, it is worth it i swear.


Trigger Warnings: murder, homophobia, animal abuse, shootings, hate crimes.


3,75
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There were a handful of poems I enjoyed from this book, but it left no lasting impact overall. I'm fairly new to the world of poetry, so it could be that this collection just isn't for me, but there was nothing that resonated very strongly in this. "Nature Poem" and the letter erasures were both the most creative and my favorite works from this book, and I didn't mind the variety of form throughout. Sala's style is pared back and concrete, and her collection reads at times like a memoir. I gave this 3/5 stars.
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This poetry book was so unique. I think this is the first time I've seen a key smash used as a poem method and actually enjoyed the result. the poems were blunt and brute and I loved that about them. I always love when a collection explores queer identities, and this one definitely delivered. I enjoyed this so much!
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I love poetry so was very excited to read this. Got around 30% in before I noticed some issues with the wording. Therefore it is impossible for me to continue reading. 

Hopefully an update/edit can be done. 

Then I can properly rate and review.
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I'm not sure how to rate this book. It really did nothing for me, but it also was not bad. I picked this book up on a whim because I absolutely love poetry and find it (most of the time) very inspiring! The description also said that this book contained 'queering science', which was extremely intriguing to me. However, it all just seemed a little flat for me. It did not arouse any emotion within me, I could not connect with any of the poems, and in the end I was left a little confused.

I would like to mention that I read this from my Kindle app, so maybe the text was a little messed up or something, but the formation of the writing was super confusing. I had no idea where one poem started and the next stopped. I understand that this may be something only on the Kindle app, however if it is not I think the format of it all was pretty weird.

Now, why did I give this 3 starts and not rate it lower? Well, that's because this book was not for me but I know other people could absolutely love it! I feel bad rating poetry because it can be super confusing and not relatable to one person and really inspiring and enjoyable to another. This was just one book I could not connect with, but that was not the authors fault at all, which is why I gave this 3 stars and not a lower rating.
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I liked the first and the third parts. When the author says that she wants "to be the poem, not the poet" I understood her so much! I thought it was a beautiful way of expressing the feeling. I felt mesmerized with the poetic language and the rhythm!

I also liked the fragments from the blackmail letters. That is a way of subverting violence and bigotry, and the type of poetic experiment that I love. to encounter. It is also playful, from my point of view, and adds levity and a smile to experiences that may be grusome. It must have required an excellent editor to re-create the whole experience, so kudos to the publishing house, Tolsun Publishing, for taking the time and effort to present it so well in this book.

At some point the authors speaks about losing a job and being happy about it. That's another experience I can also identify with., I liked how she mixes her personal experiences -those she wants to mention- with the poetic feelings and the social criticism..

She also mentions a historical fact which took palce in the Appalachians' Trail. I had already heard about it because, (what a coincidence!), I finished reading Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods two weeks ago and he mentions this very same event. I liked the reference to this ourtrageous event. It was sheer luck that I knew what it was about so I didn't have to google it up! I liked the way she treats the matter as well. A cold case whose file has never been properly closed and that now it has sadly become part of the history of their (the poet and the victims') country, the USA.

Where the book lost me is in the non-sensical un-readable words. If the poet wanted to express the breakdown in human communication, congratulations, she's succeeded! The only thing I can say about it is that I felt that the "asdfsdfa" was based on the words sad and fast, which created a sad emotion on me..I may be mistaken and it is not based on those words at all, but I didn't understand it and I didn't like it at all.. James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake lost me on page one, and Sarah M. Sala has lost me in this part.

I will recommend it. The positive points outdo the negative for sure. There is a part in the middle that I didn't like.but the rest was the type of meaningful, expressive free verse that I usually like. Congrats to the poet!

https://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/15955780
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An journey of abstract thoughts about science, sexuality and painful memories..

At first, Devil's Lake may appear as an intimidating book to the poetry uninitiated. With multiple variants of poems and one style morphing into the next, the poetry at first can seem hard to follow, especially given the tendency for one poem to merge into another on the same page with only the title above it to at times tell the reader it's time to move on. This may cause difficulties for some and confusion for others (myself included on initial reading.

However, this is a book which deserves to be kept with, its poems slowly read and reread and digested. Because, under the initial confusion are many splendid poems, capturing the joy and heartbreak of sexuality and love, the curiosity of science, nature and the world around and above us. Harrowing and unforgiving poems about school shootings and the tragic case of two women murdered in their tent.

In my opinion, due to the above, this would not be a recommended first step for people completely new to poetry due to the layout and some of the more abstract themes within the poems. However for people with more experience or with an appetite for something more to their poems, this is a worthwhile read.

This book is recommended for more experienced poetry lovers with an interest in poems about sexuality, science and the shocking horrors in our world or new poetry lovers who want exposure to more advanced poetry..

Content warnings: discussions on racism and school shootings, murder, homophobia, animal abuse

(Review originally posted on Net Gallery as feedback on the ARC available in 2020. Also posted to my Goodreads page [https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/116195675-kaizenkhaos])
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