Book Review: No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay

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No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay
Published: 2014
Genre: Poetry
Format: Paperback
Pages: 143
Source: Library
Dates Read: January 3-5, 2019
Grade: B+
Synopsis: A collection of heartfelt — at times striking — poems highlighting family, love, loss, history, and more.

REVIEW

Some poems I thought were okay, but then others punched me in the gut. I’ll share what struck me so fiercely from those special ones.

  • “Mrs. Ribeiro” (23-25)
    • This one was really nice. It reminds me of one of my friends who wants to be a teacher. This poem makes me think of what he’d be like and how the students would view him — so that’s what made me tear up with this one.
  • “Something We Don’t Talk About, Part I” (49)
    • What affected me so strongly about this one was the fact that it’s about a loved one with dementia. My aunt had early-onset Alzheimer’s and died in her mid-sixties. Reading lines like “We watched it happen. // All three of us. The steering wheel of our family / being pulled out through the dashboard. // The slow-motion tire screech. / That empty highway.” brought tears to my eyes before I even realized what I’d read. Kay goes on to write: “I didn’t tell him that even after a crash, // a key still fits the ignition. / There just isn’t anything left to drive.” This is so accurate. Not only does someone effectively revert back to childhood when going through a disease like that, but eventually they become shells of their past selves. Watching that happen to someone you love is one of the most heartwrenching things you can go through.
  • “Shosholoza” (57-59)
    • This one is about Apartheid in South Africa in 1966. What’s so powerful about it is that it shows what was taken away from so many people: their livelihoods, their homes, their families even. It’s often just a footnote in many people’s histories, but it’s so much more than that and everyone should know about it so they can see how wrong that kind of thinking is.

Other Favorite Poems:

  • “The First Poem in the Imaginary Book” (22)
    • You do not need to look very / hard to find your shadow here. / Your fingerprints are on these pages. / So many of your footsteps in the snow.
  • “Hands” (46-37)
    • I love hands like I love people. They are the maps and / compasses with which we navigate our way through life, / feeling our way over mountains passed and valleys crossed; / they are our histories.
  • “Evaporate”
    • I am watching parts of me evaporate like sidewalk water. / This wet grey, this nighttime dew, gone before morning.
  • “Hiroshima” (77-78)
  • “B” (97-99)
  • “Witness” (103)
  • “Here and Now” (117)
  • “Lightning” (128)
  • “The Type” (129-130)

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