Title: The Chaos of Longing
Author: K. Y. Robinson
Publisher: Andrew McMeels Publishing
Publication Date: September 26th 2017 (first self-published on May 31st 2016)
Page Count: 160
Summary: “The Chaos of Longing is a brutally honest exploration of desire—physical, emotional, and spiritual. This revised and expanded edition contains over 50 pages of all-new material.
Organized in four sections – Inception, Longing, Chaos, and Epiphany – K.Y. Robinson’s debut poetry collection explores what it is to want in spite of trauma, shame, injustice, and mental illness. It is one survivor’s powerful testimony, and a love letter “to those who lie awake burning.” (Source: Goodreads)
Content Warnings: difficult parental relationship, trauma, body objectification, sexual harassment, sexual assault, manic depression, graphic depiction of sexual assault, abusive relationships, intimacy, suicidal ideation, racism, sexism
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Hello everyone! I’m back at it again with the POETRY. I tend to space out my reading with one fiction book then one poetry book, going back and forth. The Chaos of Longing is kind of a reread? I read the first edition of the collection when it was still self-published, but then the author was given a book deal with Andrew McMeels Publishing! YAY! I first read the self-published edition of The Chaos of Longing back in summer 2017, and I LOVED IT. It was actually one of the first modern poetry books that I read that inspired me to keep going with my self-published author-y thing. And guess what? K. Y. ROBINSON LOVED MY BOOK ALSO??? HECK!!!
Anyway, I got my hands on the revised and expanded/second edition of The Chaos of Longing when it first released and I don’t know what happened but it just sat on my shelf for ages? I blame university and other amazing books. Although, I am glad that I’ve given myself some time between reading the editions as it is like reading it for the first time all over again. Sometimes that can REALLY open up your eyes to things when rereading for second or third time, but when I “reread” this collection, I knew it was amazing because I still loved it. Expect to see me recommending it every month or so 😉
Wow, that was a lot of rambling, but it was out of love for this book. (Loverambling, can that be a thing? Yes it can, MJ) OKAY, let’s do this review as that’s what you came here to read!
The Chaos of Longing is split into four sections: inception, longing, chaos, and epiphany. The structure of the collection is beautiful, it follows the path from difficult beginnings, a turbulent middle, and to a hopeful future. I connected strongly to Robinson’s words, even though the majority of the poems were highly personal and undoubtedly speaking from experience.
There is just something about the way Robinson writes that is so captivating. The precise of her words are breathtakingly precise (the following excerpt has themes of body objectification, sexual harassment, and body negativity):
in their famished eyes,
we were prey.
women we thought we had
a few more years to meet.
it was an unjust
rite of passage
for girls who bodies
were full as oceans
with waves that didn’t fit
quietly in an hourglass.from ‘fast tailed girl’, p.7
The author regularly discusses sexual trauma in her collection, and as someone who has been subjected to sexual abuse both as a child and as an adult, I felt recognised by her words. The trauma and aftermath of such abuse is rarely conveyed in literature, and even more so, childhood sexual abuse is rarely discussed, so I truly thank the author for being open about her thoughts and feelings about it all.
The section ‘inception’ is perhaps one of the most potentially triggering sections of the collection, so be careful before reading this one. However, one of my favourites of the collection is from ‘inception’:
i carry all my hurt
i can only unpack
them on pages.
out of my throat
when i wasn’t looking
and fell on my lap.
i wanted to jump
from my bones
in the wind
to be free
and light as air.from ‘stigma & shame’, p.16
Do you see what I mean about Robinson’s precise poetry? She has this ability to dig into your bones and heal them. I know you’re probably thinking “heal them?” but for me, personally, when someone else talks about something that I’ve experienced in a similar way, my bones go “wow, that’s me!”. I think that’s why I love poetry so much. You can find bits of yourself in poems.
What I adore about this collection also is the endless variety of images, and metaphors. I love the way love is illustrated in Robinson’s ’tilted’:
my love is clumsy
it bumps into everything
and apologizes excessivelyfrom ’tilted’, p84
I’d like to suggest a second title for this poem, and the title is – MOOD.
The collection additionally draws on the theme of ‘longing’, as the title suggests, quite often. Sometimes the longing is shown through intimate imagery, and other times the longing is presented through space metaphors, which I hecking love:
I burn for you in the dark-
unable to separate
the moon from the stars.from ‘nocturnal melody’, p.58
This is also a strong mood. I must highlight to any reader on the asexuality spectrum who intends on reading this that this collection contains occasional sexual imagery in the ‘longing’ section.
I really cannot wait to Robinson’s second poetry collection which she is apparently working on as we speak! I know this is supposed to be a review where I talk in detail about WHY I like or love or dislike a book, but with this collection, it is indescribably beautiful and powerful and THAT’S WHY I LOVE IT. READ IT. READ MORE POETRY GOSH DARN IT!
Have you read The Chaos of Longing by K. Y. Robinson? What did you think? Let me know below!
Until next time, be brave & bookish & READ MORE POETRY!