Wednesday 4 April 2018

Review by Katy Louise Gearing of "Please Hear What I'm Not Saying," ed. Isabelle Kenyon

There is a lot of poetry about mental health. Some overt, some subtle. As a poet who focuses on writing about my own mental health, I try to read a lot of poetry about it. It makes me feel less alone, as it does for a lot of people. Despite this, I’ve never read a full anthology of mental health poetry. Odd I know, but there we are.

Reading Please Hear What I’m Not Saying was not always an easy experience, but it was always worth it. Along with more subtle hints of mental health tip-toeing into the room, there were steel capped boots running in and kicking everything in sight. I loved it. When reading a book about mental health written by only one person, I find that you’ll only get one point of view. Or one specific set of issues. For instance, I tend to gravitate towards books surrounding depression and anxiety, because they are the issues I suffer with. However, this book contains poetry about several mental health issues, which is refreshing. And heart-breaking. 

What I also found refreshing was the way the poetry was set out - in eight different sections, numbered chronologically, but with no names. Instead there was a space for you to write your own title for each of the eight sections, encouraging you to read and consider what each part does for you, and name it accordingly. I love the openness of this, as if the writers know that we’re all going through individual struggles and, as such, want us to take whatever we need to from the poetry instead of telling us what each part should mean.

I won’t name one favourite poem or poet in here, because to do that would do a disservice to all the other poetry involved. All the poets dissect mental health in their own way, and every one of them does it successfully.  I would just recommend that you read it and take anything you need to from it.

About the reviewer
Katy Louise Gearing is a writer in her 20’s who focuses on poetry surrounding mental health and feminism. She occasionally writes fiction, but tends to get distracted too easily for anything longer than a short story. When not writing, you can probably find her petting cats, or reading.

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