Your life will never be the same, ever,
so you can never be the same, ever.
Goodreads Summary: In Alicia Cook’s second poetic effort, designed in the style of an old mixtape, she sets her thoughts to a nostalgic tune. There is no Table of Contents. Instead, there is a “Track List,” making it easy to refer to them to your friends with a, “Hey did you read track seven?!” There are no chapters. Instead, the book is divided into two parts, or as one would say in the 90’s, two “sides.”
Side A holds poetry that touches on all aspects of the human condition like life, death, love, moving on, evolving, growing up, hometowns, family dynamic, life after trauma, and make-ups and breakups. Side B holds the “remixes” of these poems, in the form of blackout poetry, also known as “found poetry.” Side B gives the material a fresh twist by creating new poetry out of Side A. There is also a very special surprise at the end of each track.
I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful book of poetry and, at one point, I had tears in my eyes after reading a piece on childhood friends which spoke of unconditional love and acceptance. What I love about this book is that there is poetry for everyone, there is something in there that will move everyone, it possesses a universal appeal. Alicia Cook’s writing is simple and packed with emotion, but also with hard checks of reality. Alicia Cook is like the halfway house between Rupi Kaur and Nikita Gill; while Rupi Kaur’s poetry tends to be very short and sparse and Nikita Gill tends to be paragraph heavy, Alicia Cook has managed to find a blissful balance.
I have to admit that I did enjoy Part A more than Part B having never read blackout poetry before. I do feel that it does cut quite short, but then again I think some people might love that it is quite short.
The pieces that resonated most with me are the ones that focused on the struggles between choosing whether to be the old you v accepting the new you. What Alicia Cook offers instead is that we fully embrace the new you, make up the new and better version of you because old doesn’t necessarily mean good. Some things belong in the past and that includes the old you who made those ‘mistakes.’ Alicia Cook also suggests that we stop calling them ‘mistakes’ in Track 41, because when we do that, we prevent ourselves from taking responsibility. It is better to own your actions and strive to do better, otherwise, we’re just making a whole load of excuses and hindering self-development. Sometimes you gotta just say: “I was wrong. I will do better.”
I am guilty of romanticising some bridges that I’ve burnt for good reason, I’m guilty of romanticising parts of me that were never really as glamorous and wonderful as the image of myself that I had created. And I know why that was the case. Depression (and desiring a tiny fragment of steadiness). But I forgot that it was the old me that led me to depression. The new me does things that positively affect my sanity. The new me learns, considers whether my words are unjustifiably hurtful, the new me fights for justice (and has recently learnt that some people are as unreasonable as their poorly constructed and unreasonable arguments, so never bother feeding the trolls). The new me is better. So, here’s to Alicia Cook reminding us to embrace the new me, the new us, for Track 8 which snapped me back to reality.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is suffering from mental illness, who has experienced loss, who loves love and has been broken-hearted, who is building a new and better version of themselves, and anyone who wants to better understand the human condition.
Have you read or are you planning to read ‘Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately?’ Which poetry books have moved you? What are your thoughts on the battle between the old you v the new you? Let me know in the comments!
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