“whiskey words & a shovel III” is a modern poetry book that redefines poetry in the modern era
Book Review by Christina Strigas
5 out of 5 stars
I know that being a poet in the modern world is never easy. Everyone judges you. Your husband, your wife, your lover, your friends, your neighbours. It’s not easy to pour your heart out on paper, on the internet or in a book. Poetry books are sacred to me, I get to carry them around, fold their pages and read them over and over again. r.h Sin is a modern pop poet. He is making poetry popular again, with his Instagram account and his simple, brilliant way of writing from his heart and sleeve. There is nothing wrong with that. Most may criticize this, but I can easily read Dorothea Lasky in one sitting and r.h. Sin. Poetry in another and enjoy both books for different reasons. Reading great poetry is an experience, an individual experience that varies from person to person according to their own life and knowledge. I can connect to poetry and its various forms and techniques, as an English lit Major and as a woman. These are some excerpts from his book.
I have been following r.h. Sin ever since he was with Underwater Mountains and the whole publishing fiasco that I was a part of with 451 Press, another division of that company. Although Sin may have many trolls and haters, he has an abundance of love and support. In essence, he is a poet that carries on and focuses on his art.
The free verse and honesty that is shown in “whiskey words and a shovel III” actually surprised me. To be honest, I was preparing myself to not like it as much as I did. My daughter owns his other two poetry books and I glanced at them and although I never read them and never gave them a chance, I jumped to the conclusion that “it wasn’t really poetry.” And who am I to say that? I am trying my best to keep poetry together. Sometimes I write to express, other times to spurt forth words that choke me. It seems to me, that we need to evolve in our perception and high brow attitude of poetry. This is a best-seller. This book has sold so many poetry books that, damn, you ask yourself, who is reading poetry? Well, it appears to me that r.h. Sin has a gift and the masses are reading his uplifting words. His gift and brilliance lies in his simple expressive way of telling us a story from his own personal experience.
If you are a woman, who has been taken advantage of, ignored, rejected, abused, not loved the way you deserve… it is easy to see yourself on these pages. Most women have fallen prey to men that can’t love them back and vice versa. Sin sees the strength in women and expresses it with beauty. The fact that the poet is a male, makes the words he writes about women even more poignant. His point of view gives us another perception as well, of a man, who wasn’t loved the way he deserved; how women too, can take advantage of love and not give back any intimacy or love in return. That is what I adore about this book…the fact that we get both perspectives of not receiving the love we need.
I also adore the size of this book, and its compact nature. The paper feels almost like newsprint and the typeface is typewriter font, giving you the feel that it is typed. It has an old feel to it in a modern way.
In the poem, “strange love” Sin writes, “ I hope you find someone who falls in love with the strange that lives within you.”
I read this many times, grasping that we are all in some way strange and we all hope to meet a person that can love that part of us. In essence, this is a fear for most people and we try to hide the weirdness in us, up until we can’t anymore. In that simple phrase, so many emotions run through your mind of being accepted for who you are and realizing that most people just didn’t accept that part of you that you so desperately want them to.
I have read this book twice so far and I know for a fact that I will read it again. This is what a great poetry book should do, make you want to go back for more. I suppose it could be during this particular time in my life, I am feeling more vulnerable and this perhaps made me connect to the words and emotions in this book; however, I felt as a woman, he hit the nail on the head with the misunderstanding of love and lust.
I think that the way he writes is pure and from the heart, and even if you have heard some of these quotes or expressions before, reading them again only hammers home the fact that life is short and don’t stay in a relationship that harms you, but try to move on, no matter how hard, and find a true love. It may be a bit idealistic, but that is what poets do, create a world for the reader. r.h. Sin has a unique poetic voice in the natural way he writes and creates a world for us women, that feels safe and loving.
In “a New York summer” Sin writes a longer piece which portrays a man understanding that he has to walk away from a harmful relationship, and by harm, I am implying not being loved back in return. This is how we harm ourselves, by staying in a relationship that cannot give you what you are giving back.
I have chosen some of my favourite pieces in this book to share with you, but there are too many so I will leave you with a few above.
This poetry book fully explores relationships and how they can turn beautiful and loving with the right partner or the complete opposite with the wrong one. So in the words of r.h. Sin,
the love you deserve
can’t be found
while holding on to someone
who doesn’t deserve you”
Never forget that literature is an art expressed in words.
Thank you for reading and if you have any comments please leave them below.