For the man who wasn’t there…
Written before and during COVID-19 pandemic, the poems explore the strangeness of isolation, complex variations of grief, the idiosyncrasies of modern dating, and other snapshots of life both funny and sad.
“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light…”Dylan Thomas
After reading Josa Keyes poetry those lines from Dylan Thomas kept popping into my head. Whilst not wishing to infer that Keyes is old, I have no idea of her age, she is an adult with experience of life. The energy and passion which she brings to her work just conjured up this thought – she does rage not at the ‘close of day’ (well perhaps there is that as well) but to ensure that what has gone is seen, understood and allows for moving on. Acknowledging the disasters as Keyes calls them, yes, but also the good things. Being able to cry but also to laugh at them. An abreaction, if you will, to enable moving on.
This volume of poetry brings many emotions to play. There is a great sadness underlining much of the work which is drawn from the loss of being with her family when she was sent to boarding school at the age of seven, the loss of her mother, the break up of her marriage/relationship(s) and her seeming inability to choose the right person to be in a relationship with. So we see, in lesser and greater amounts, anger, fear perhaps even disgust in subtle ways. Then, perhaps to our surprise as much as Keyes, we have laughter and happiness. The laughter sometimes a bit self deprecating but often just recognising the ludicrousness of a situation and happiness because even if some things end up being a disaster they began as love and joy. Not everything that results from a disaster is bad and we often have to travel a path where we seem to be going backwards before moving on.
This slim volume is packed full with poems which as you read will resonate – perhaps on the first reading, sometimes on the second or third because, of course, it will depend on our own experiences too – and it will become a wondrous thing for the reader to explore over time and find yet another poem that speaks as much for them as it does for the author.
So you may sigh, you may shed a tear but you will also laugh and most definitely, I think, enjoy.
I would certainly recommend ‘My love life and other disasters’ by Josa Keyes.
Thanks: My heartfelt thanks to Josa Keyes for a gifted copy of my love life and other disasters in return for an honest review. All thoughts are my own, no payment has been received.
Well that’s my fourth read done! Yes, I’ve already strayed from my very loose list but Cathy’s rules allow it which is why I love this challenge so much.
Published: Keyes Content Ltd (4 Jun. 2021) | Paperback | £4.99 | ISBN-10: 0993124852 | ISBN-13: 978-0993124853
Josa Keyes (formerly Young) is a journalist, novelist, poet and content designer living in London. She has held senior editorial positions at Vogue and the Times, and other glossies and broadsheets.
In 1994, she discovered the internet and began producing digital content in 1995, which led to a career shift from paper to digital. She started blogging in 2000 (before it was called blogging), and adopted social media in 2007. She is now a content designer, working for big brands and gov.uk, when she isn’t writing novels and short stories, and performing her poetry.
Her first novel, One Apple Tasted, was published by Elliot & Thompson in 2009. Her second, Sail Upon the Land, published 1 December 2014, was long-listed for the Historical Novel Society Award in 2015.
With a BA from Cambridge, she took a Creative Writing Master’s at Brunel University in 2019, supervised by Booker winner Bernardine Evaristo, she achieved distinction and won the Arts & Humanities Faculty dissertation prize.
Josa Keyes performs her poetry in London and elsewhere. Get in touch if you would like to book a performance.
My Love Life & Other Disasters her first poetry collection, is published 1 June 2021.
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