Shelby Eileen’s poetry collection SOFT IN THE MIDDLE promised to be a series of poems about body positivity and queer sexuality. I was expecting these poems to really resonate with me and for this to be a new favorite poetry collection. Unfortunately, I was not impressed by these poems. One of my biggest problems with it was the structure both of the collection and of the poems themselves. The collection sort of had two “section” type-things, but in reality none of the poems in each section related to each other. They seemed to have no coherent order or organization, and I couldn’t form a narrative about any of the relationships or the body positive stuff the way I usually can in poetry books. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason (no pun intended) to how the poems were ordered or in how they were written. I felt like I was reading cliche stream of conscience writing that was trying really hard to be poetry but ended up being meaningless word chunks about clouds and stardust. Basically, these poems were not memorable other than being memorable-ish for their cliche-ness and their lack of substance. The only good part about this book is the cover.
I was really excited for Trista Mateer’s HONEYBEE because I saw Amanda Lovelace and some other cool poets I follow on Twitter tweet about her. This poetry collection definitely did not disappoint. I’m realizing I’m not a huge fan of love poems, at least when that’s all there is in a poetry collection. There were a few too many love poems for me in this one, but Mateer made up for it for the fact that they were almost all QUEER. This is what I expect a queer poetry collection to be. There were even some I kind of related to about being bisexual and that made me very happy. I also liked her writing style. They’re more traditional than other popular poets like Lovelace or Rupi Kaur, but I still enjoyed them a lot. I would be very interested to read more from this writer.