For as much as I read, rarely do I get a chance to review a poetry collection. Oh, I am quite fond of poetry and have several volumes (though, to be honest, many of them are not from this or even the previous century) that I peruse frequently. But I rarely get a chance to review poetry, and I am glad to have this opportunity.
Ode to Eight Years is a collection of poems by Kristin Bapst, about the journey from scarred past to acceptance and to love and onwards. It is primarily about love, with some darker questions about a person’s ability to love after past trauma and difficulties. And I think it’s that dichotomy that makes this collection work.
As far as the poems themselves go, they are not quite in the style of Dickinson, or Auden, or Byron. (Again, my previous experience is showing through.) However, I think it does very well with the contemporary style and it works very well with the themes. The thoughts that cross line breaks often break the flow to focus on a particular sensation or revelation. And where things are choppier, therein lies the struggles to be overcome. Or at least, that was my impression. (I haven’t done academic-style poetry analysis for a while and my skills are a bit rusty.) Since it’s impressions that make the difference in poetry, I think this worked very well.
Also, it was just nice to read poetry about overcoming struggles and growing in love and in self. I think it’s a perfect time to be reading something like that.
Anyways, I would say that this collection is a solidly enjoyable one. The themes were readily present and didn’t require meta-analysis, the poems were well-written in terms of flow and style, and I enjoyed reading it. I would say that if you are into the highly-contemporary style where the primary theme of the poem is hidden beneath layers of meaning and word-play, this is not the collection for you. It is down-to-earth, rich, and enjoyable.