Friday, April 19, 2019

Lost in a Quatrain by Adiela Akoo – Book Review


April is National Poetry Month, so I managed to squeeze in a couple of poetry collections to review.

The first is Lost in a Quatrain by South African author and poet Adiela Akoo. It is a collection I'm glad to have come across. There are many poems I could relate to and many I'd love to quote "whole".

The 65-page collection begins with the short but inspiring poem "Within" which I felt spoke to me as a writer and poet. "Empty Chairs," whose beginning is the same as its ending, leaves the reader aching. It's a painful poem of memory and loss; it also strikes a chord with me because in the past 45 days there have been four deaths in the family. It also reminds me of my poem "The Picture".

Back to Lost in a Quatrain, there were a few political and spiritual pieces, including "Know Thyself".

"Cape Town 1990," which tackles the issue of white versus black skin, is painful to say the least. Similarly, "New Apartheid" is a must read. And while I don't think my country had much of the skin problem, I related to this poem.

"Only to find a new apartheid walking in
That now wants to condemn us
For the way we are praying!"

"@2pm" is an interesting piece on the time 2 pm, where a lot of things are being done by different people. It gives a sense of togetherness and aloneness at the same time. Though a short piece, it's an idea that is definitely worth thinking about.

"What's Up?" is a hilarious story and conversation within a poem. I loved it!

Lost in a Quatrain includes several deep pieces such as "Not Enough," "Broken Winged Bird," "Are YOU Ready?" "As the Rain Pitter-Pattered," "Wrapped Up," just to name few. There are many and I enjoyed them all.





"Hormonal" is a powerful womanly poem about – you probably guessed it – women's monthly period. I appreciated that Akoo wrote about this and included it in her collection.

"Coupling" is poem about writing and I totally relate to it! I felt that Akoo was reiterating my thoughts about words and poetry that come to me in the middle of the night. This is a five-star piece.

One of the poems that I had me thinking a lot was "You Are a Woman, You Must Learn to Live with Being Sore" which Akoo says was a grandmother's advice. The poem tackles a contrast about women having to be strong but in pain in a way. They need to take care of their homes and husbands but at the same time they need to be strong. It's a poem worthy of study and being included in syllabi. I get the idea; I would assume my grandmother thinks the same way. I know I have a few points I'd argue about as would many young and older women nowadays. Still, it's worth reading and thinking about.



The language in Lost in a Quatrain is simple but the imagery and flow were amazing. Some were like songs and others were experimental like the one-sentence poem which I felt should be extended into a full short story. Meanwhile, the poem with the same title as the book, "Lost in a Quatrain," comes late in the collection but I adored its flow. Each quatrain tells of a situation or short story. I felt that if were longer, it would make a beautiful song.

Overall rating for Lost in a Quatrain by Adiela Akoo: 4.5 stars. A must-read and a collection to be remembered. Thank you for bringing to my world, Adiela.

Note: I received a free copy of Lost in a Quatrain from its author Adiela Akoo in exchange for an honest review.



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