Ok, today we’re going to do something a little different today. Instead of reviewing a novel, I’m reviewing a selection of poems. I actually don’t get my submissions for poems, so it’s good that I have a chance to read and review them this time around.
This selection of poems I was able to read in a couple of days – but I made sure that I paid attention to each one of them in turn, giving them an equal share and dedication. What I found were a collection of stories that were insightful, moving and sometimes even apocalyptic! But all were a joy to read.
So now, I present to you, dear reader, my review of L’Aria Onyx by Sahm Ataine King.
About The Author (provided by the author)
Sahm Ataine King is a poet, aspiring novelist, and graphic designer and has been in-love with the written word since his exposure to the Science Fiction/Fantasy genre at a young age. He has self-published two poetry collections, "The Grey Muse" and "l'aria onyx", and is currently working on a third, as well as three other titles from the Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Erotica (or Romance) genres. He lives in the United States and hopes to one day expand his horizons by travelling the world and learning of cultures beyond the confines of the internet.
http://sahmataineking.com/ (WordPress Blog) - The Arkside of Thought
A somewhat bleak looking cover, displaying a girl (at least I think it’s a girl), in a back alley, hidden in shadow somewhat and looking beaten, or high (maybe both). It’s a dark cover to say the least, and may put off some readers, but given the dark context of the stories, it works well in my view.
This may be one of my shorter reviews today – simply because if I were to analyse EVERY single poem in this book, then this would be an incredibly long review. Therefore, I am going to sum up the general themes of the book and pick out two of my favourite poems that I felt stood out.
When most people think of poetry, they generally think of rhyming words that flow in a song like rhythm - that's the general impression most people have anyway. But King takes this idea and applies his own feel to them, writing them in a prose that feels raw and more honest. He rarely resorts to rhyming in his poems, and many of his lines have a rather abrupt cut off at the end – suddenly stopping dead and ending the rhythm. They feel more like a collection of thoughts than a poem, almost like we are delving into his deepest thoughts and feelings. Some of his poems are quite short and end abruptly, which can be a little jarring at times – but this leaves the reader wanting more, which is a good thing.
The themes covered by these poems cover are varied and richly complex – covering loss of faith, love, self-loathing, corruption, self-harm, drug abuse and the dark side of the American political system to name a few. Interwoven with these are strong religious contexts and imagery, from Christian to Greek Mythology. Each poem is vividly described and conjures beautiful and sometimes horrific images that David Lynch would probably enjoy. The prose is unapologetically visceral and biting, full of barely contained aggression and insightful wonder – but also woeful catharsis and a desire for betterment.
For me, the two standout poems were Pig’s like ‘em black and From a father to his daughter. Pig’s like ‘em black is a furious commentary on racism within the police force and holds nothing back in terms of anger for this prejudice. It’s a story that is laced with rage, but also helplessness at the years of oppression that a race has suffered from. For me, it was a middle finger to all the racists out there, saying “f*** you! I am what I am”. Powerful stuff. From a father to his daughter is a heart-warming story (one of the few) that details a father talking about his unborn daughter, looking ahead in the years of all the hardship that they will go through as parent and child. It is a very tear-jerking piece and I’m sure that anyone who has had doubts about whether they would be a good parent will appreciate the sentiment this story brings.
One of the most powerful sections of the piece is the collection of stories under the subtitle The Apocalypse of Sahm Ataine King. This was written in a completely different style to the rest of the poems, penned more as passages in the Bible, with each story being a “verse”. These verses felt like a journey of self-discovery, whereby the author looks over his life and looks at both his own sins, and the sin of man in general. Again, the words used bring up such incredible imagery that they deserved to be portrayed as pieces of art. If any artist out there is looking for an artistic challenge, read these poems as I think they will give you food for thought.
Like any good story, each poem is open for interpretation and the explanations I gave were just MY way of interpretting it – but this entire collection for me has an overriding concept behind it as a whole. Each tale is part of a much bigger story and one that I think you'll have to find your own truth within. Needless to say, I predict good things for this writer and hope that someday his work will be recognised amongst the best poets out there.
PROS: (poetry in motion)
- A great selection of poems with many layers to them.
- All form part of a much larger story.
- Unique way of being presented.
- Open to interpretation and with powerful imagery.
CONS: (perfectly pretentious)
- None that I can think of!
Speculative writer Harlan Ellison once said that you have to suffer to create great art – and, judging by the strength of these poems, King clearly has done his share of suffering. Each of these poems has so many layers of emotion that it would be hard not to be moved in any way by them. Whether you’re a hardcore poetry fan or just a casual reader, there is something within these poems that will definitely stir and feed your mind.
FINAL SCORE: 5/5