Cover Image: The Smallest of Bones

The Smallest of Bones

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Member Reviews

I appreciated the premise of this poetry collection, and maybe it was the poor formatting but this read almost like a textbook at points and I had to actually check when I first started reading if it was actually non-fiction and I just didn't realise.
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The Smallest of Bones is a poetry collection consisting of bite-sized poems covering a wide range of topics from: love, romance, relationships, queer sexuality, religion, death, demons, ghosts, bones, gender, and darkness. 
Walrath's poetry collection was short but impactful. her choice to group the poems in sections based on different bones in the body felt unique and i especially loved the pages where she introduced these bones; mixing up anatomical descriptions with powerful poetry.
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This was a 3.5 for me. A quick and easy read, definitely with a “mood”, but also kind of elementary. I found the cover beautiful, but the content a bit lacking. I gave it a bit of a bump for the variety of topics. I’m grateful, as always, for the ARC.
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I found the reading interesting, poetic and evocative. I love poems very much and when I noticed this book I was immediately struck by it. I couldn't not read it.
The poems are varied and the topics covered within are also varied: love, sexuality, relationships in general and self-discovery. It is a powerful collection all focused on getting naked in front of the reader.
No one cannot fail to notice a small veil of darkness and veiled honesty, sweet that lets itself be lulled into a book to be discovered.
As always, I love the shorter poems to the longer ones because they end up being more incisive and decisive but in their own way each one has its own charm.
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Loved reading this collection,  I thought the use of anatomy throughout was incredibly well suited to the poetry within. Excellent and intriguing cover art too.
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*I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for the free poetry collection"

I am sorry to say, I felt no connection to any of these poems which are structured by body parts. I cannot really understand the high praise as both content and form could not draw me in.

The Goodreads description reads as the following: "The Smallest of Bones guides those on an intimate journey of body acceptance, with sparse words dedicated to peeling back skin and diving bone-deep into the self."

I did not really get that and I'm sorry, but these poems weren't for me.

2 stars max
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It was a very vulnerable book, and whilst the metaphors tended to be a bit odd and confusing at times, I think this added to the beauty of poetry in a sense. 

Whilst the style and complex metaphorical expressions may be a barrier to some, I found that it contributed well to the collection as a whole.
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This collection of poetry was unique in the expoloration of deep emotions and their connections to the physiology of the human body.
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Poetry has always been a super personal experience for me and I feel that most people will be able to find areas of this collection that will resonate. 

I found a few and they were beautiful, heartfelt and cut deep. 

Holly has managed to take something so integral to all (bones) and pour her heart and soul into it. 

I honestly think there is something for everyone here and although the layout is not conventional, it still read well. 

Thanks NetGalley and the publisher for an arc of this book.
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The Smallest of Bones is a great collection of poetry. I enjoyed reading this collection of poems on different subjects. I look forward to reading more work by this author.
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This is one of those instances where I wish publishers would consider making a little bit more effort with arcs. Poetry needs the formatting, but the version I got was a little bit too much of a mess for the poetry to be fully and completely appreciated. 

Anyway. I was expecting really good stuff from this, based on blurbs, and I’ve read some absolutely wonderful horror poetry previously. The concept for this is intriguing, and I did like the small snippets of information before each poem about different bones in the human body.

The blurb claims these poems cover “a wide range of topics such as love, romance, relationships, queer sexuality, religion, death, demons, ghosts, bones, gender, and darkness.” Which is a lot for such a small space. Poetry, when done well, is a wonder to behold. Something about this collection just fell a little flat. There were elements that worked well, but there were parts where some of it felt almost forced, like there were tick boxes of themes the author was trying to cover. It felt like the poems themselves needed just a little bit more space to breathe.

A couple of poems are good, but I think this would have benefitted by more care over arc formatting and by the collection itself maybe being a touch longer. But then again maybe it’s me, and maybe there’s some who will claim I just don’t “get” this. Walrath is a talented poet, but this collection just felt like there too many different ideas vying for space.
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My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book to review. This is a lovely little collection of poems. I couldn't get into all of the poems, but it was a sweet collection and had some real gems in there.
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1.5 - 2 stars 

I think the premise, format, and structure were so intriguing the format being that of a human skeleton, starting from the skull and working down to the rest of the body. And that’s about all I can say that worked for me, unfortunately. The poems themselves were so simple and lackluster which really hurts to say since it was billed as dark, haunting, and at list a little bit spooky/horror but that is not at all what I read; they were more so along the lines of short lined tumblr text posts. Ugh it just sucks because I was so hyped for this collection and was left really disappointed.

ARC given by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
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This is a poetry collection consisting of short poems covering a topics like love, romance, relationships, queer sexuality, religion, death, demons, ghosts, bones, gender, and darkness.
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Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for an e-arc in exchange of my honest review.

This poetry collect was a super quick read and enjoyable. The author takes different bones from the body and writes a short poem about them. The flow of the poems were done really well and help make the reading experience even more pleasant. The cover is gorgeous and is what immediately caught my attention. Fans of poetry and all emotions should give this one a try.
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Text from web review: Using the human body (specifically the skeleton) as its canvas, Holly Lyn Walwrath’s The Smallest of Bones is an intricate portrait of the human experience, concerned with physical and emotional identity in all its nuanced forms. As you might imagine in a book about body and identity: sexuality, gender, disease, and disability often come into play.

The poetry in The Smallest of Bones is collected into a variety of subcategories, each paired with a part of the human body, including the cranium, mandible, sternum, and more.
Each section opens with a surgical yet provocative analysis of the particular skeletal fragment.
For instance, Walrath notes early on that researchers can identify sex via the skeleton alone — but not gender. This fact is a gateway for Walrath to show us the complex way their gender identity relates to their physical body. These moments are artful, full of an anguished craving for comprehension and acceptance (both from themself and those on the outside), and sometimes absolutely drenched in sorrow.

Similarly, Walrath explores sexuality — most often in relation to autonomy and ownership of one’s body. These are some of the most heart-wrenching sequences of the book. In them, Walrath asks some of the most important questions a young person can about their experience inhabiting a meaty flesh-suit: What does it mean to give your body to someone else? What does it mean when someone else takes your body from you without consent? Is virginity really so fucking important — like at all?

Poetry is probably the most personal and interpretive genre of literature there is, so it’s hard to offer a definitive rating. I’m not a poet, but I am a lyricist. In terms of lyricism, I’ve always believed that ultimately each listener will decide what the song means to them — and my intended meaning will fall to the wayside.

With The Smallest of Bones, I have a feeling that I’m smack dab in the middle of the target audience. I have numerous complicated labels based on my body’s relationship to the world around me. I’m transgender, chronically ill, disabled, a sexual assault survivor, a victim of parental abuse, and a romantic partner. This collection of poetry was deeply personal to me, and in some ways therapeutic as many of these labels come with a warehouse of emotional baggage that I will likely be unpacking until the day I die.

I emerged on the other side The Smallest of Bones with a new reverence for the tenacity of both the human body and spirit. I also realized something that feels simultaneously simple and profound: while I am not unbreakable, there’s nothing wrong with being broken. And there’s nothing wrong with learning to heal.
That’s one of the most important messages I could have possibly come away with at this time in my life.
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The Smallest of Bones is a book about vulnerability, about what we are and what we feel under our skin, our vitals, all our shields of protection. It's a book about who we truly are in our skeleton, in our core, in our soul.
I had already read a book of poems by the same author, Glimmerglass Girl (click HERE to read the opinion), and I had felt a lack of connection with the poems.
About The Smallest of Bones, as a whole I liked the book (much more than the other one I read by the same author), but, even so, I felt that some poems lacked depth, feelings and vulnerabilities that were left unexplored.
Of course, poetry has a very personal interpretation and everyone feels and interprets a certain verse in a certain way, but I think the author could have scrutinized a few more aspects in the poems she wrote to create a deep connection throughout the book, which it would translate into a more cohesive and brutal reading, instead of having one or another poem that seems a bit "disjointed". I can't explain it well, but that's what I felt.
Neverthless, I consider it a great read and I recommend it a lot.
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"I wish I could hurt you / the way you hurt me / but my skin is a mask / and my fists are flowers"

I love poetry so much because it can be so powerful, but also so subjective - what works and impacts one person may not do anything for another, and that's completely okay. I accept that going into any poetry collection, despite how much I love the genre, there's a really big chance that the collection just may not be something that I enjoy reading. This can also be a fear when reading a new or debut author in general, because going in without the expectations of a previously read book can be a little daunting. With THE SMALLEST OF BONES, I feel like I was kind of rolling the dice on both bets - when I saw this one being offered for review by CLASH Books, a poetry collection by an author I'd never read anything by before with an absolutely KILLER cover, I knew my rating would be a gamble.

After finishing the entire thing in a single sitting, I'm happy to report back that I didn't need to worry - I loved this so much!

"have you ever loved / something so much / you needed to destroy it"

These poems are tiny - like, super small, some only a few lines long. I know that this short, lowercase, "grammatically incorrect" style of writing isn't everyone's favorite - I've gotten a lot of rude comments on posts I share of my Rupi Kaur books, lmao, so I am no stranger to people's anger over a short poem, let me tell ya. But they really work for me, because the shortness and simplicity of the poems allow them to be open to interpretation in a way that I can easily relate to them, and apply them to feelings I've had in multiple situations in my life - and that's not something I can do with an extremely detailed, long, specific poem, you know? (Although, look, I'm not hating on those either - time and place for everything, right?)

The book is split into different sections titled and themed for its namesake - the small bones in the human body. The intimacy of these darkly bite-sized, emotionally raw poems pairs well alongside the theme of such small parts of us physically as a framework, and I found myself underlining & tabbing what felt like every other page as I read - I loved so many lines throughout.

"wouldn't you rather be something violent / if you had the choice"

Another unique thing about this collection is that the titles of the poems are part of the poems themselves, and the titles in the "Contents" make up their own poem - or they seemed to anyway, I don't actually know if that was intentional but I was vibin' with it & loved it, haha. From the contents poem: "I think we write about ourselves so we can / fuck what other people say / or maybe we're just broken" - ha. Loved this collection, definitely recommend.
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A truly visionary work of beautiful macabre lyricism.  Walrath has turned the building of a body into deepest of traumas and alternately the relief of healing wounds.  Nothing quite compares to delving deep into Walrath's poetry as one would dive into their own pumping living heart for she helps us remember what it means to be alive.
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These bite-sized poems certainly pack a lot of creativity, but in the end, I was left felt wanting a little bit more. Overall, it was a fast and fun read, but nothing stood out to me as particularly memorable aside from the central conceit of the poems each named after and inspired by different bones in the body.
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