Title: Somebody Give This Heart A Pen
Author: Sophia Thakur
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Poetry (aimed at teens)
Book format: Paperback
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Description: From internationally acclaimed performance poet Sophia Thakur comes a dazzling first collection of poems.
Sophia Thakur takes you on an intimate journey through love, loss, faith and self-discovery.  She gives a voice to the experiences that connect people, and encourages readers to look into themselves and explore the tendencies of the heart.

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  This is an interesting collection of poetry although it feels like a difficult book for me to review as some of the poems really resonated with me, while others not so much. ‘Somebody give This Heart a Pen’ is a short collection of poems from the spoken word poet Sophie Thakur. The book is arranged into four sections: Grow, Wait, Break, Grow Again with a short introduction called the process…at the start. Each section holds many different poems of varying lengths, although none of them very long, and they are all interesting to read.

Somebody Give This Heart a Pen book page image one
©The Strawberry Post

Each page or double page contains one poem, some of them several verses long while others are as little as four lines. There is the occassional rhyme in some of the poems but overall they don’t, and in some cases have a mixture of long and sort verses and lines. Every poem is different but covers the thoughts and feelings that the heart goes through in different events that can happen in life. At the start there were several poems about growing up, about the relationship of a mother to child and vice versa. As the book continues there are all sorts of poems, some focusing on bigger issues like racism while others seem focused more on things like friendship and relationships in general. All of the poems are focused on the heart, how and what if feels from different situations, and they all do have depth to them and you can feel a lot of the emotion behind many of them.

There are some poems in this that really resonated with me more than others, the poems that focused on and were simpler in their message felt interesting and were often easier to read and grasp. I really liked some of the ones towards the second half of the book, the heart learning to move on from bad relationships, understanding yourself and the ones that were focused a lot on healing (the Grow Again chapter). There were also many I enjoyed from the other chapters too, including one that mentions politics (though not political, more about how politicians and others don’t care) and others that focus on the self. But for the ones I enjoyed there were some I just didn’t feel such enjoyment from and I think it’s because I just couldn’t relate to them all that much.

A lot of the poems in the book focus on relationships and in particular the emotional turmoil of a bad relationship. There are a lot of poems where the author is in despair over a relationship and the effect it’s had on her, and these poems tend to have sad endings which could make you feel a bit emotional and sad yourself, especially if you’d gone through some of that turmoil. But at the same time these poems and quite a few others feature sentences and bits of information that I just couldn’t relate to. At times I felt it was geared towards a gertain type of reader, one who’d gone through a lot of this turmoil or been in the same situations as the author, particularly when facing racism or those thypes of bad relationships, and reading them felt a bit difficult. There are some good poems on deeper issues including the racism which I did enjoy, but I felt that the shorter poems that had shorter sentences were definitely easier to understand and connect with.

Oddly, I found some of the poems in this book almost difficult to read and it doesn’t usually happen with me as I like reading poetry (I even write it!). I like a lot of different types of poetry including non-rhying which this is, but this is the first time I’ve come across some poems which I found almost difficult to read. It wasn’t just the subject matter but the actual writing. There were longer sentences following short ones with some of the poetry being full paragraphs. It made the poems feel a bit jarring to read at times, and I have to wonder if this is because the author was a spoken word poet before a published one. These poems definitely feel like they would sound better spoken aloud rather than just read. Unfortunately because of the style of a lot of the poems it reminded me of poetry you learn and study at school, which might put some people who aren’t into poetry off from reading this.

Somebody Give This Heart a Pen book page image two
©The Strawberry Post

I do think this is a powerful collection of poems which many (young girls in particular and also those of colour) will enjoy reading, especially if they can relate to a lot of the subject matter including racism, relationship problems and general self confidence issues. It’s also obviously going to be a book that people will love if they’ve heard and enjoyed Thakur’s poetry before. However it’s not a book for people who don’t really like poetry and I wouldn’t recommend it to someone as a first book to get into poetry as the sentence structure might put some people off. I also think that for the size of the book at a little over 100 pages and a poem a page roughly, it’s a bit expensive at the full retail price of 7.99 (I don’t often comment on price but it really seems expensive at full price for what you get).  Definitely a good poetry collection with a lot of lovely emotion put into each poem, but unfortunately not one of my favourites.
Added: After seeing Thakur perform one of her poems in an online clip I can hear how it’s performed and it definitely sounds better and makes more sense to hear a poem spoken than the it is to read it.

Do you like poetry?  Have you heard any spoken word poetry?  What sort of poems resonate with you?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂