The latest book from r.h. Sin is A Beautiful Composition of Broken, which doesn’t exactly do what it says on the tin. He presents us with poems, prose and pieces of writing all stuck in one place. Thanks to NetGalley for the book and letting me tear it apart as much as I feel is required.

As someone who’d love to work in radio, we’re always told to put our best work at the start of a demo. Sin uses the same approach with the fabulous poem intro. as our welcoming. It’s the type of poem that makes you think damn, why didn’t I write that?

i took my expectations
and buried them all
at the bottom of the sea
because i alone
was never brave enough
to dive that deep

Contemporary poetry means a lot to me – it’s my favourite form of self-expression at present. I love the lack of capitals, the choices made over punctuation, how clear and crisp the work can read when it’s just words on a page.

To say I haven’t enjoyed Sin’s work would be a lie, but my main issue is in why this book is so difficult to consume in a couple of sittings. Most poems are so short, it’s easy to drink them in and spit them out within seconds. You forget to enjoy them, or you struggle to because they’re so quick.

You know when you’re looking at a friend’s photos, – real life printed photos, — flicking through, wondering how long you have to seem interested in each one for? This is the poetry version of that.

Most of the poems are so short, and sure, many times they can be intelligent, emotive, powerful. But a lot of the time, it’s like “ah, cool,” and then you want to flip onto the next page. It takes three seconds to consume all that piece has to offer, and your instinct is to move on but you’re wondering — should I be giving this more time?

The cover of 'A Beautiful Composition of Broken.'

Is my friend a bad photographer, or am I just not getting it?

Maybe I did miss something. Many of Sin’s poems are flat-out statements, no subtext or reading between the lines. Word economy at its finest, perhaps. But this feels like a by-product of the low attention-span, consumerist lifestyle that my generation is portrayed to emblazon. It’s pandering to the quick and easy readers. You won’t feel much because let’s be honest, you’re not that invested in a poem that only begun one line ago and is already about to end.

This is fast poetry. It’s poetry for those on-the-go. You can read fifty poems on your bus ride to work. Is that a bad thing? Sometimes it feels like it is.

Added on to that, some of the pieces feel connected, as though you’re being brought on a journey. There may be a part one, part two, etc. Others are like fragments of a larger, dissected work with no clear way of joining the dots. My thoughts on how the works order was chosen is hazy. Some of Sin’s pieces seem randomly thrown into the mix with their motivation unclear. I never did quite figure out where my mind was supposed to be upon finishing the book, but it certainly didn’t go far.

The theme of misjudgement shows up throughout Beautiful Composition of Broken, with the overarching structure of the poems reflecting this. It’s a reminder that modern poetry has no definitive form or structure. Some pieces are merely two lines long – the roses. is just nine words. To call each piece a full-fledged poem feels wrong, but if that’s what Sin decides on, who am I to argue? I’m unsure as to whether this was merely coincidental, but it was appreciated none-the-less.

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But this is a good book, don’t get me wrong. At points I thought “I’d love this to be my work,” or “I should write like this in my collection,” although it’s unlikely that I will. Within my notebooks and notes app, I have dozens of fantastic lines. Thing is, they’re just snippets for use in larger pieces. Never would I want to publish them as standalone poems because the result will be similar to A Beautiful Composition of Broken — many pieces that feel too quick, too sudden, too unfinished and unpolished and all of the other words a writer doesn’t want to hear about their work. It just doesn’t feel like poetry. It feels like a collection of Tumblr quotes.

The title of the book is so glorious, it was actually a part of the inspiration behind my poetry blogs title, A Cluster of Wonder. I suppose I have r.h. Sin to thank for something.

If you love modern poetry, you may love this book. I have mixed feelings, and can only describe A Beautiful Composition of Broken  as a marmite collection. You can get it here from Amazon if you’re interested.

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