The Smallest of Bones
by Holly Lyn Walrath
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Pub Date 28 Sep 2021 | Archive Date 31 Oct 2021
A haunting ossuary of tiny poems covering a wide range of topics such as love, romance, relationships, queer sexuality, religion, death, demons, ghosts, bones, gender, and darkness. 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. Raw, honest, and powerful, this collection is an offering to those struggling to find power in the darkness.
“Between stars and shards of bone, Holly Lyn Walrath invites the reader to build a skeleton with her words, to get lost between the dark spaces of curved ribs. The Smallest of Bones offers so much within each poem -- here, we wander beneath the moon and speak with ghosts; we transform under the night sky and haunt our own minds as the words encourage us to strip back the skin and expose rawness and vulnerability. A beautiful collection!”
—Sara Tantlinger, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Devil’s Dreamland
"A striking meditation on the body and its ghosts, this collection is a blossoming of bones and the trauma we hold inside, a gorgeous homage to the fever dreams and nightmares we collect, break, and survive with each and every day."
—Stephanie M. Wytovich, author of The Apocalyptic Mannequin
In “the smallest of bones”, blood, bones, skin, and flesh are placed on the sacrificial altar as an offering to the gods, beautifully laid out to represent life’s journey: love, identity, volition, pain, destruction, and finally, enlightenment.
Raw, visceral, and powerful, each word in Walrath’s poems is selected with the care of a surgeon for the perfect incision. It is a journey we all walk and this is its handbook.
—Christina Sng, Bram Stoker award-winning author of A Collection of Nightmares
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Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 160 members
4 on 5 stars!!
The Smallest of Bones by Holly Lyn Walrath is a weird yet hauntingly beautiful collection of poetry. I'm not very well versed when it comes to poems. But when I read some, they have to be from the horror genre, and they often talk about body horror.
When I saw that this book had a similar theme, I requested it at that very moment. And I'm glad that I did that, cause this little book beautifully manages to talk about bones, their locations in our body, and how they are impacted in conditions like trauma. The author successfully managed to intertwine our body and bones with deeper topics like love, death, and sexuality. Some of the lines in this book also reminded me of incidents from my all-time favorite horror novel, To be devoured by Sara Tatlinger!
Many thanks to the publisher for providing me a review copy via NetGalley. I appreciate it.
This poetry collection is a little treasure. Not only each and every poem is a gem, the general idea of writing poems inspired by the bones, by the hard facts about them and transform those facts in a lyrical way to talk about love, sex, desire, violence, I think is brilliant.
Thank you for letting me read this book in advance and for putting this author on my radar!
Well... I’ve never read anything like this. This novel is a set of poems that are centered around our bones, but it’s so much more then that!
It’s about love, hate, passion, fear and wants.
This is a very intriguing novel of poems.
Yep... I liked it a lot.
A small collection of lovely poems. I really enjoyed reading the poems in this book and this would make a great read for anyone who likes poetry.
*Thanks Netgalley and CLASH Books for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review*
The poetry book was not what I expected but there was some lovely poems in there and it is easy to read this book that I will come back to again .
Thank you NetGalley for letting me read this book.
A quick read that packs a punch! In a short time it explores womanhood, violence, relationships, love, identity. Every poem begins with a textbook-like introduction to the bone that titles the poem, leaning into the violence it can experience.
I really enjoy this style of poetry, with its metaphors of bones and blood and light constructing beautiful sentences. It definitely left me wanting to read more of the poet's work.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC!
This book blew me away. I don't know how else to say it. This queer, slightly-horror, slightly biological, incredibly lyrical book of poetry is one of the best things I've read in a long long time. The imagery, the format, I don't have words to convey the power of these poems. I will absolutely be buying a copy of this book once it comes available.
I read this in one sitting. Wow. I'll be honest I'm not usually the biggest fan of poetry. It is usually a territory which I stay away from but this I adored. Throughout the collections the poems showed pain, explored sexuality and touched upon topics like death in a beautifully written, contrasting but well flowing array of thoughts.
This collection of poetry is short but definitely not sweet – but in a good way! The topics this poet covers are not easy, but she tackles them in a raw, honest way that will touch readers. Each section of poetry is broken down by a different bone in the body (i.e. cranium, sacrum), and I really liked this touch by the author. This really added to the overall collection and presentation. I connected with some poems more than others, but I think most will find these short poems powerful and thought-provoking. Perfect for any poetry lover! 3.75 stars.
I received a free digital ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
'my body is two-thirds
ABSOLUTELY. FRAKKING. STUNNING POETRY.
'I think we write about ourselves so we can become creatures
we wish we could get out of our skin'
Walrath is an excellent poet and I cannot wait to read more of her poetry. ♡♡♡
It’s not much of a secret that I don’t read much poetry. For much of my life, I actively avoided it, actually, thinking it was just old white men lamenting over lost loves or confessing said love to a girl/woman they met once and never saw again. It took a long time for me to realize poetry could be used for so much more than that, and that it could find ways to reach inside and pluck heart strings you didn’t even know where there, or in tune.
The Smallest of Bones managed to do just that to me. It’s a small collection of poetry based on some of the bones in the human body. The way a description of the bone was turned into poetry was beautiful and moving. It’s hard to accurately speak on and review poetry because meaning is so incredibly subjective, moreso than other forms of writing where meaning may be come clear. Poetry has the freedom to be completely subjective, so lines that were meant by the author in one way become interpreted in ways they weren’t meant.
I enjoy the mix of beauty and un-beauty. The language used isn’t always what one might call ‘poetic.’ Lines like “I still loved the fuck out of you” are intertwined within metaphors and imagery of the fragility of flowers. The two sit alongside each other in a way that is sometimes jarring, but in a way that makes sense, that pulls meaning and delivers a punch to the gut.
The collection is very short, and as such is, for the most part, easily digestable. Any longer and it might have started to get repetitive, and the style of mixing altered faux-text book descriptions of the bones juxtaposed with the poetry may have begun to feel forced or lacked some of the meaning they were written with. Still, the words are a beautiful collection of what it means to be broken, and to put yourself back together.
I was provided an advanced copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I love the concept of this, mixing information from medical books/information about bones with poetry. There were a few lines I loved, like "because even our bones are made for what men want". The layout was a bit weird looking, but I think that's because I read it on my Kindle, and it messed it up a bit.
Over the past few months, I have been getting back into reading poetry and this is a book that I am glad to have read. The connection that the author created between the bones of the body and the poems that they wrote was incredible. Each section of the book was demoted by a certain bone and that was a creative endeavor that I really enjoyed.
It's always hard for me to review poetry because it is just a personal thing to me and the experiences that I have reading it and unique, so the most I can do is share it with others so they can have their own experiences.
I’m quite honestly not the best with poetry I don’t understand some of the metaphorical writing but what I did understand I loved! Some the the lines in this was outstanding the lines about love hit me hard. I may be wrong but some of the poems reminded me of a toxic and or abusive relationship with a partner. Definitely not what I was expecting but very impactful.
I think the only reason it wasn’t five stars was the formatting but I know some poems do this to highlight specific things I just never really enjoy it as much.
"my body is two-thirds
A short and haunting collection of dark poetry centered on the bones of the human body, identity, and relationships. There were some great lines that really resinated with me (see above) and I loved the interplay of the semi-scientific introductions to each section with the poems that followed. It was a very fast read, and was definitely left wanting more. I'm looking forward to seeing a hard copy of this, as I think the formatting of the eARC I read did not do the content any favors. Also, I love the cover of this book!
I am grateful to CLASH Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review The Smallest Bone.
This is a hell of a book. The walking tour through the bones, which starts as a common grass Wikipedia entry and darkens as it progresses into the weight and evidence of physical abuse in a female body is very very harrowing, and I found it an incredibly effective recourse. Those prose poems are some of the best of the book and situated the briefer pieces in a broader context, preparing the reader for the horror, for those of us that write "to become creatures", who would "chose to be violent" if it was possible. I think there's something very impactful about this (1) not being a recovery book ["come back to haunt me/ i don't want to think about/ what i mean without you/ what kind of woman that makes me"] and (2) tracing regardless the workings of abuse, the slow shaping of the bones, the repeated lesions on the same bone, the way will ultimately bends under the hands of other body. It reminds me vaguely in tone of a chapbook by Hannah V Warren, but sets itself apart by its approach, the clinical beginning of the prose poems that unravels with the shorter poems and cements us in a warped consciousness.
That said, while I really enjoyed this book, the amount of blank pages felt thoughtless, which disappointed. Since it's such a small manuscript really, it felt like space was used as a "filler" instead of giving it meaning. It took me out of the reading constantly. However, that doesn't mean I won't be returning to this book. Thank you so much CLASH Books and Netgalley for allowing me to read this ARC!
Release Date: Expected 26th September 2021
Publisher: CLASH Books
The Smallest of Bones is unique collection of small poems with a chilling and somewhat ethereal undertone throughout. Covering topics such a love, relationships, and heartbreak in such a shattering tone, then jumping into the subjects of sexuality, queerness, gender and identity and of course death, ghosts and bones.
"If you strip me down to my bones, am i yours?"
This collection was intimate peek into the thoughts and soul of somebody on a jouney of painful self acceptance and reflection. In a dark, constantly moving style that isn't for everyone - it isn't written in perfect stanzas and is in that beautifully disjointed modern style that feels more like a trailing, confusing thought than a standard poem but so much more visually enchanting. Jumping between hauntingly beautiful and viscerally crude and raw, this was difficult and dark at times - especially if you're sensitive to repetitive references to blood and bones.
While these poems may be shadowy, this honestly powerful collection offers a brief glimmer of light in the darkness for anyone who is trying to learn about who they are down to the smallest of bones.
Thank you to Holly Lyn Walrath, Clash Books and Netgalley for this ARC in return for an honest review.
This poetry collection is, while short, an impactful read. It melds together facts, figures, and oddities of the human skeleton and serves as a shell for a serving of emotional experience. It isn't often that you find a collection that you want to reread, but for The Smallest of Bones, I would want to revisit this experience more than once.
"Hiding our hearts is easy when we have so many bones"
once asked how I got so thin
I told him I was made of glass"
The Smallest of Bones by Holly Lyn Walrath is an amazing, beautiful, and powerful collection! With shards of bone and glass I felt safe to curl up between my ribcage right alongside the little ball of pain I've lodged there for safe keeping, and truly explore myself, my experiences, and the world in relation to everything from sexuality to religion to the darkness that comes along with being alive.
Perhaps it is because I myself have always used bone's and the human body in my own private writing to express various feelings I was forcefully drawn to this collection for word one. I literally could not put it down (I tried, lasted all of five minutes) and I felt a strange rush of comfort and connection with the words so perfectly chosen by Holly Lyn Walrath. It is a collection that I will be purchasing for my own collection as soon as I possibly can, for there is a spot on my shelf screaming to be filled with this book and only this book. I have been searching for a collection like this for so long, I feel like I can finally breathe having finally found The Smallest of Bones which far exceeded anything I had hoped to find.
Thank you so much to Netgalley, and of course Holly Lyn Walrath and publishers for granting me an ecopy in exchange for my honest opinion. I can happily and truthfully lend my opinion.
"Because even our bones are made for what men want. Because as hard as we try to be sacred, they can always use us for sacrifice."
What an extraordinary poetry collection! I could cite dozens of lines I loved, lines that broke open some unconscious thought or feeling, lines that downright annihilated me. Walrath's poetry engages with the queer experience in a way I found hauntingly authentic, portraying the many ways queer women learn to hate ourselves and that which we love--especially if it's other women.
"and sometimes I pray for you I can't help it
it's something they taught me"
There's a third line that runs underneath this collection: religion. I enjoyed how many of the poems played with ideas of the profane and the sacred, showing how blurry the line can be between. This collection asks us: who gets to decide what is sacred, what is holy? As an ex-vangelical agnostic, this resonated a lot, and I believe many queer readers of faith will find it highly relatable. How do you have a relationship with a religion that purports to hate you and the way you love? The Smallest of Bones doesn't necessarily have solutions, but it takes the reader's hand in the darkness of their most isolating feelings and says, me too. I feel that way too.
It's been...quite some time since I've read poetry, even longer (never) since I really dug into horror and dark poetry. I thought I'd give this collection of poems by Holly Lyn Walrath a try, and I am so glad that I did.
The concept is really beautiful, exploring the human experience, sexuality, femininity, relationships, the body, and so much more through different bones. The poems feel like a cohesive bunch, with a clear voice. The writing style is abstract, but not so much that you aren't able to grab onto pieces and really feel them, deep in your gut.
While not every poem was for me to connect to, most had something about them that held me there in relation to it. Some were certainly better than others, and there were more than a few lines that made me actually quiver inside with how hard they struck.
The e-book ARC I read from NetGalley was a little messy so it jumbled the flow sometimes, but this is a book I could see myself reading again.
Thank you for reminding me that poetry is really something to contend with, and introducing me to the dark beauty you had to offer.
*Thank you to NetGalley for providing an ARC of this title.
This is a beautiful book of poetry. If you want something that will make you think, feel, and be inspired read this book! I enjoyed the structure of the book going through bones. My favorite poem was "Sternum."
So normally Poetry is not my thing.. well I can’t really say that, because I’ve only had like poetry we were forced to read in high school and then I’ve read Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur... but after reading that last one, I know poetry wasn’t for me, cause ( very unpopular opinion) I did not like it one bit.
But I said, let’s give this genre another try shall we ? And so I did. And shockingly, I liked it. I liked The Smallest Of Bones, because it was special. Because the poetry read like poetry and not some insta or tumble caption, like in my opinion, most of the poetry nowadays.
She wrote some informations about different body parts, and only after started the poems. I think it was a very easy read, and it was short. Which I also liked, cause poetry books of 200 pages, just no.
So this one was good, it maybe me think about reading more poetry... but I still have to think about it
This is a visceral, intelligent, outstanding work full of forward momentum and the grabbing of ideas and the body and wrestling with conventions and finally kicking them out the door. It's a collection of poetry inspired by parts and places of the body, and about body, and being a woman, and loving women and their bodies, and rejecting the status quo and the male gaze and grappling with self-image. I want to give copies to every woman I know, and I want to teach it in high schools, and I want everyone talking about it, and I want to read more by this author right now.
A short, vivid and visceral exploration of sexuality, abuse and bodily autonomy. I never quite know how to review poetry aside from how much I connect and feel whilst reading this and I definitely connected and felt the pain of the author. I also thought that the metaphor of old-fashioned anatomy did a great job of capturing the themes of this poems
Read this book out loud. The words tumble around, blending anatomy, love, and something deeper to create a subtle current that pulls you further into this complex mixture of poems.
The author uses the anatomy of skeletal bones to convey the deep, complex feelings of love, passion, heartbreak, and. infatuation. This was a unique reading experience that challenges the reader to process all of these emotions.
This isn’t a long book, which is good, because you will want to go back and read this more than once!
This was beautiful and powerful. I’m not sure I would consider it horror, but it was a quick good read nonetheless.
This is a gorgeous collection of poetry. A recommended purchase for collections looking to expand their poetry offerings.
“if you strip me down to my bones, am I yours?”
I have received an ARC in exchange for an honest review (netgalley)
The Smallest of Bones is a dark poetry collection that makes you think on relationships, sexuality, loss and more.
Walrath has an excellent command of prose and the structure of The Smallest of Bones hooked me from the start. Somehow the author has managed to capture a ton of feelings, but what stood out to me the most was the central theme of finding the light in the darkness. The structure of this collection was incredibly unique. I have never seen a poetry book organized by bones in the human body.
I did dislike how jarring the topic changes were and some of the formatting bothered me. Overall though the raw emotion and depth Walrath wielded made this an eye opening read.
I am looking forward to seeing more of their work and can’t wait for the release to recommend this on other platforms.
Book Review for The Smallest of Bones
Full review for this title will be posted at: @cattleboobooks on Instagram!
As an anatomy nerd, this poetry just made me happy, even on the topic of heartbreak.. Would recommend
"i think we write about ourselves so we can become creatures"
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.
this poetry collection felt insightful, meaningful and unique with a beautiful cover, and it's one i would love to revisit to find even more meaning in.
"hiding our hearts is easy when we have so many bones"
“𝘱𝘢𝘪𝘯 𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘩𝘶𝘮𝘢𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘪𝘵 𝘸𝘦 𝘸𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 𝘣𝘦 𝘴𝘬𝘦𝘭𝘦𝘵𝘰𝘯𝘴”
I don’t read much poetry, and most of the poetry I’ve read was for school and written by old white dead dudes. But when it comes to modern day poetry I have discovered that it is not men, but women who have set the bar.
I requested an eARC of 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗦𝗺𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝗕𝗼𝗻𝗲𝘀 because I couldn’t stop thinking about it’s stunning cover. I am happy to say the content within is just as good. Holly Lynn Walrath is definitely going to turn heads in the world of poetry with her artful words.
Poetry is unique in that you can give a room full of people the same piece, and each one of them would extract a different meaning based off their own life experiences and view of the world around them.
Our bones are white, structure, strength… But in between it is darkness, void, vulnerable. Life, death, love, sexuality, identity, ghosts all make themselves present… Holly’s words take the reader into these dark spaces with a haunting and raw exploration of everything we hold inside.
𝙎𝙩𝙪𝙣𝙣𝙞𝙣𝙜. 𝙋𝙤𝙞𝙜𝙣𝙖𝙣𝙩. 𝙊𝙧𝙞𝙜𝙞𝙣𝙖𝙡.
If you’re looking for your first or next work of poetry, The Smallest of Bones is an excellent choice.
Inspired by anatomy books, _The Smallest of Bones_ is a collection of short poems about love, relationships, death, and body acceptance. Each poem intertwines these subjects with the haunting images of blood, flesh, and bones.
I enjoyed reading these poems. Each one was short, but most if not all were very impactful. I found the breakdown of this book interesting. The excerpts about the different bones were interesting, and I feel like it set up each section nicely.
If you enjoy poetry with a haunting aspect, I would recommend this book to you.
Thank you NetGalley and CLASH Books for the ARC.
Honestly, I started a bookstagram because I didn’t want to annoy my 47 followers with reviews of essays, but when I realized that I could read ARCs, I got excited. I went looking for something good to start with and saw “The Smallest of Bones” which did not disappoint!
Walrath’s self-proclaimed weird poetry is collected in this book and is not broken down by topic but by bone.
We follow Walrath up and down the skeletal form of someone dealing with a variety of traumas and insecurities. What stood out most to me were relationships studded with abuse and body dysmorphia/acceptance.
From hardships to hope, any fan of poetry will find themselves engrossed in “The Smallest of Bones”!
As someone who’s always enjoyed writing and reading poetry, I found lots to appreciate in this collection.
What I noticed first is that Walrath constructed the table of contents in such a way that it reads as a poem itself. I love that you can easily see how these poems fit together in the collection, but it is also clear that they can stand alone.
I’m also a fan of visual poetry—seeing how putting words in different places, and breaking lines in different points changed meaning (or amplifies it)! I’m sure I’ll be reading and re-reading a few times to truly see the different meanings Walrath wrote.
—Even Further Thoughts—
I couldn’t leave this post without discussing my own obsession with a book like this. I am a funeral director (intern) by trade, but I first studied anthropology, with a focus in biology. Basically, I love bones.
For years, I’ve been obsessed with the stories bones can tell. I even did a project based on Lynda Barry’s “One! Hundred! Demons!” called “206 Bones” where I wrote vignettes based on my life that followed various bones in my body.
I loved to see a similar (albeit very different) idea played out and published here! I’m in love with this book! ❤️
The poems in each section of this book read like one larger piece, while also standing alone as glimpses into someone else's story. It was a refreshing and interesting way to approach a poetry collection, and the poems bled smoothly out of section introductions that described the bones in focus: cranium, mandible, sternum, and so forth. The mix of technical detail and poetry gave the poems that followed each intro greater depth.
I was immediately intrigued by The Smallest of Bones due to the horror genre and the cover (just being honest). This is a poetry collection focused on the skeleton that keeps our human selves together. With each piece starting with an overview of a specific bone, this collection is unlike anything I've read before.
Holly Lyn Walrath takes all of the pieces that make up our bodies and weaves them through dreams, nightmares, trauma, gender, and accepting the skin we're in. Each piece feels precise and intentional, stemming from fact, which was a satisfying experience. This quick read is heavy hitting and allows the reader to savor each line.
The Smallest of Bones is easy to read, meaning it's for both poetry newbies and experts. I think there's something for almost anyone in this deliciously dark set of work.
Holly Lyn Walrath's 'The Smallest of Bones' is a beautiful collection of poetry. Walrath writes an intimate and honest reflection on love, heartbreak, identity, and more. Holy provides a beautiful and dark homage to the powerful emotions that hide within the crevices of our bones. Each word is written magically and with a ravishing desire to explore each and every experience that the human body stores. A truthful and powerful journey worth reading!!
Almost like chapter titles, major bones of the body are detailed, breaking up the many poems. Each with an explanation how bones protect vital organs. Bones, caging the body from harm. What a wonderful notion that bones may cage our feelings in a flight to protect from emotional harm.
I had high expectations for The Smallest of Bones since I loved Glimmerglass Girl so much. Even though I had an idea of what to expect from this author, I was overwhelmingly surprised. The truth is, I love this new poetry book even more, maybe. It's hard to say, I love them both. Holly Lyn Walrath gets to the grit, writes from a familiar perspective and reveals secrets without shame.
I started reading before I looked at the description to give myself a chance to feel it. In these words, I read loss, grief, yearning, regret and anger. Feelings that are common I suppose with most. Expressing them, letting them out, getting to the height of the pain, is more difficult and uncommon.
It is always possible the author did not intend what the reader gets from the words. Maybe that is what makes poetry what it is, something to read, take it in and let it move you. Any way it moves you, is ok.
For me, poetry is a sense of soothing, understanding and comfort. Though the words may seem weird, maybe morbid leaning toward macabre even, they are moving. The words moved me and I felt connected to them. Words saying exactly what is not easily said aloud.
The cover is captivating and pulls at me. It caught my attention and I wanted to know what this poetry could be about. The title fits what is inside. A thought, an idea that bursts with every verse. The poems are beautifully styled. The subject matter is striking. I absolutely love it.
In Holly Lyn Walrath’s collection, The Smallest of Bones, Walrath uses the very foundation of the human body, our skeletal system, to explore the individual’s tendencies to push against structure -- the constant, to create an identity that is honest and self-assured. Walrath moves us through the body and the self, investigating self-repression, self-incrimination, and self-expression.
“If you slowly bend a bone / over time inch by inch / it deforms until It molds / to your hands” from the Smallest of Bones by Holly Lyn Walrath
Walrath’s tiny poems navigate life’s challenges -- identity, relationships, emotions, pain – in her uncanny style that not only resonates with the reader inherently but wows them with lyricism and otherworldliness. She grapples with the duality of feminism and submission, sexual identity and social expectations, and self-doubt and self-acceptance. In the end, she strategically connects these tiny pieces to create a complete image of wholeness.
This is a cutest, weirdest and short book about BONES! The poet covers a part of bones in our body and it weave with themes like romance, love, pain, sex and identity. It's a quick read and I enjoyed.
The Smallest of Bones is a quick, uneasy read that may linger with its audience beyond its brief runtime. The poems it contains are individually small, but feel cohesive in a way that creates a sense of a larger narrative--much like the parts of a human skeleton do.
This is an exceptionally well-structured collection. Its division into segments headed by descriptions of a particular bone very effectively heightens the sense that all of the tiny poems are working together to support the poet's overall vision, thereby heightening the impact of each individual poem.
Not every poem quite resonated inside my own ribcage--but then, such is the nature of poetry collections. The real standout for me was "there are few places left," a poem which I think will remain a part of my thoughts for a long, long time.
I would recommend this collection to fans of bones, queer horror and love, and frank discussions of trauma, abuse, and the lingering impact of blows both psychic and physical.
I received a free e-ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
*Thank you to Netgalley and CLASH Books for sending me an e-arc in return for my honest review.*
4 out of 5 stars
A book full of poems inspired by bones. Sounds weird at first I admit, but this is very much worth the ride. The author manages to weave facts about bones that sound rather dry when you look at them out of context into an exploration of trauma, love, death and sexuality. The poems captured me completely and I couldn't look away from start to finish.
"Hiding our hearts is easy when we have so many bones"
Few words carry vast and complex meaning, like the smallest of bones carrying the heaviest burdens in this body of poems by Holly Lyn Walrath...
Poetry has always been the hardest genre to review for me as the experience is so deeply personal to every reader. In this case, I might also be highly biased as a med-student with a fascination with all things body and anatomy. Add to that the exploration of themes such as gender, passion, relationships, death and ghosts, and you have something completely up my alley. Although almost impossible, I’ll try to split this review in an “objective”, and a completely subjective part, in hopes of helping more readers assess if this is the right fit for them.
“Objectively”, I like to judge poetry mostly on the question of does the form support the content. In this case that is a definitive YES. The poems are minimalistic and structural, mimicking an almost skeletal form. They strip the described experiences down to the bone, leaving the reader to reconstruct the body around it.
Each poem is made up of a short introduction of a bone and its function and structure in the body, followed by a musing on the above mentioned themes that somehow relate to this particular bone. It makes for a coherent and logical structure throughout that hold the poems together like ligaments.
For this structure to work however, it’s key that the lay-out of the pages is exactly as intended, which in the e-book isn’t always the case. I hope the publisher will be able to fix this issue, so that Kindle-readers can experience the poems as intended as well.
The more subjective reason I related to this collection has to do with my personal experiences. As a soon-to-be-doctor, but also a cancer-survivor and patient with a chronic degenerative illness, my relationship with “the body” is… well… complicated. I adore the human body; its intricacies, its strength and its deeply flawed fragility. I’m also terrified and filled with dread over it. This collection mirrors that feeling somewhat. It’s haunting and simultaneously filled with apprehensive love.
All in all, I truly hope this collection finds its audience. Some readers will find it too bare-bone, but in the hands of fans of this genre it’s an absolute masterpiece.
Many thanks to the author and CLASH Books for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This was a very unique short collection. I Really enjoyed the connection between human emotion and experience to the bones in the body. I have not personally seen a poet do something quite like this (though I am a poetry novice), so I found it to be a really interesting way to break down some of the topics and connect them to the physical body.
Thank you to the author, the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
A beautiful, different kind of poetry that has lovely and dark poems within itself.
The book talks about love, death, bones and skeletons, gender, ghosts, relationships, women, pain,... It talks about many things. The author writes it in a way, in general, so beautiful and dark— the author does it so well! (In general, in my opinion) I loved it!
It's a different kind of poetry I am used to read. Despite this is not the kind of book I am used to read, I loved it anyway.
The author takes the dark sides of life and transforms it into art. And it's beautiful.
There are also references to mythology, which I absolutely adored!
This book comes out on 26th September 2021, so stay tuned!
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