Book Review: "Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree"

In honor of World Poetry Day I’ll be reviewing Simi K. Rao’s collection of Poems, Rants and Short Stories, Under the Shade of the Banyan Tree.

As I’ve mentioned before, reading poetry is a great step away from the classic novel and I really enjoy reading collections from different poets to get a taste of the different styles and stories that each poet has. Some people say that poetry is all the same, but each poet has their own style that comes through in their selection and flow of words.

I really enjoyed Rao’s style and flow and how she put together her collection. The assortment is a mix of her own life experiences and of those of her friends and family which makes it far more realistic and enjoyable. Life isn’t always easy to write about and even harder to share with others. For Rao, the emotion comes out in each poem clearly. You can tell she took her time in writing and arranging the poems and short stories to best convey certain emotions.

One particular poem that I enjoyed and bookmarked to reread was Loneliness.


Introducing Loneliness,
your constant companion
You lie if you say you don’t know me
I’m the one who sits beside you in the empty
passenger seat
I’m the stranger who smiles at you at the mall
I’m the blanket you wrap yourself in every night
I’m the clock you hear ticking in the hall
I’m the breeze that ruffles your hair on a cold winter
I’m the scream that reverberates through your lonely
I’m the earth who cradles you in the grave
Where would you be without me?

If you didn’t get a little tug in the pit of your stomach from reading that, then read it again. It’s brutally honest in a way that is hurtful but also comforting. It’s a poetic interpretation of a typical, human element that most, me included, wouldn’t be able to put into words. It’s very powerful.

The collection includes other poems just as powerful as this one but also others that are more light-hearted and short stories that I wish weren’t short stories. I strongly believe that a good writer has written a good short story when the reader wants more.

The short stories and poems that reflect real experiences and emotions of struggle, loneliness, defeat and triumph make the whole collection worth a read. Rao’s writing is raw and relatable which makes it an easy and enjoyable read.

Book Review: “The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One”

Book twenty one of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Amanda Lovelace’s The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One

This collection of poems is book two of Amanda Lovelace’s ‘Women Are Some Kind of Magic‘. The first is The Princess Says Herself in This One, which I reviewed earlier this month.

I enjoyed this collection more than the first installment because of the content and overall message.

I think empowering women is a great subject to write about in today’s climate. Poetry can be a powerful medium to speak out about what’s happening in society and Lovelace does it in a beautifully artistic way.

I’m slowly falling in love with poetry and I’m itching to write some of my own. I think reading poetry can really boost someone’s feelings in a positive way. I’ve needed a little bit of a pick-me-up recently and this book did exactly that, it gave me something to look forward to, something to strive for. Thank you Amanda Lovelace.

I’m hoping to finish off this trio of poetry books and I recommend you pick it up as well. Especially if you’re a woman in need of a little inspiration.

Stay tuned for my next review: An Age of License: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley.

Book Review: “Fierce Fairytales”

Book seventeen of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Nikita Gill’s Fierce Fairytales: Poems & Stories to Stir Your Soul

Keeping with the poetry theme, I decided to put a couple of books of poetry on hold at the library and of course all three came at once and I’m loving reading them all. This particular book is the best of both worlds because it includes both poems and short stories.

Gill’s take on classic fairytales is unique and gives the meaning to the stories a whole new perspective. I honestly couldn’t put this book down because I wanted to keep reading the different adaptations of the stories I’ve know since I was a child.

The interpretation of each story wasn’t just different from the classic tale. It told the story with elements of today’s societal flaws in between the lines. A lot of modern poetry has deeper meaning and tells a story that many can relate to and these certainly did. I found the poem below in particular to be very powerful.

If you ever want to have
a look at the way a word
can totally demean and destroy
the entire worth and value of a woman
just look at what the word ‘ugly’
did to Cinderella’s two stepsisters.

Two Misunderstood Stepsisters

Even though there are only a few words in the poem it talks about something millions of women can relate to. It also speaks on a historical literary level. Almost every young girl has read, been read or seen the classic fairy tales so isn’t it possible that the literature we read to entertain and excite creativity also perpetrates a sense of demeaning oneself? It’s certainly something to ponder.

This book of poetry was not only a fantastic read, but also encouraged a new way of thinking about the classic tales we all loved as children. I highly recommend the collection to anyone that loves poetry, short stories and the classics. And I encourage those of you that read the book to think a bit more about the stories’ meaning.

Stay tuned for the next review: Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by podcast queens Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark.

Book Review: “The Princess Saves Herself in This One”

Book sixteen of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Amanda Lovelace’s The Princess Saves Herself in This One

I’ve been trying to get into poetry more because there’s just something about reading exactly how you feel in words that you would have never chosen to use. I love reading books and escaping to another world, but poetry keeps you in your own world and usually says so much with only a few carefully put together words.

If you’ve been keeping up with some of my other book reviews you’ll know that I read both Rupi Kaur’s poetry books and fell in love with her writing. It was the connection I made with her poetry that I really enjoyed. When a piece of writing is relatable it’s more interesting to read. Lovelace’s writing wasn’t that of Kaur’s, but both developed that relation. The poets have different styles (as most should in my opinion) but they both had powerful poems that told similar stories and had impactful meaning.

One of the poems for this book that I found so powerful summarized a feeling that’s hard for most to describe and did so with only 16 words. The style of writing that Lovelace uses in this poem, and the entire collection, is unique and I really enjoyed it.

A review of The Princess Saves Herself in This One on Goodreads criticized the multiple lines of single words and how it wasn’t considered poetry and “anyone can do it”. I disagree. I think poetry isn’t just about the words written on a page. There’s a style choice when it comes to the layout of those words. It gives the poem itself character and I think this style for Lovelace’s collection in this book is spot on for the character and message of the poems themselves.

I truly enjoyed reading this book and will certainly look into some of the author’s other collections. Lovelace’s style is short and sweet but packs a lot of emotion which is the best aspect of poetry. If you haven’t dipped your toe into the poetry pool I suggest you do. It’s usually a quick read but gives you perspective on how others are interpreting things you are also experiencing.

Stay tuned for the next review. I’ve been jumping around reading a few books, which I don’t do often so it could be any of these: Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by podcast queens Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark; The Silver Chair, book six in the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis; Fierce Fairytales by Nikita Gill; or American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin by Terrance Hayes.

Book Review: “The Sun and Her Flowers”

Book twelve of my 2019 Reading Challenge.

Rupi Kaur’s The Sun and Her Flowers

I read Rupi Kaur‘s first poetry collection Milk and Honey several weeks ago and I fell in love with her writing. In my review I gave you a simple task, to read the book. The same will be strongly suggested for her second book, The Sun and Her Flowers.

I was deeply moved by her words in so many ways and the majority of the time it’s only a handful of syllables thrown together in a manner that just speaks to the reader.

I’ve always been fascinated with poetry and how it can pack so much meaning in a few short stanzas. Kaur does this so perfectly it’s hard to believe there are two full books of them. Each poem carefully thought out and comprised together to set a mood.


Just 15 words put together to make a statement that every individual feels at least once in their lifetime. This section of the book talked a lot about loss and how the heart fonds over connections and the love of another being. I think of this poem not as a note about the lover that’s been heartbroken but as the person that experiences the constant pain of simply being a human. Of giving and not getting. Of loving and not being loved. Of smiling through the pain and saying you’re okay. It’s something that we all have experienced but I personally never had the right words to say that even though it hurts now, it’s not the end. I will go on. This poem gave me the words.

All the poems obviously spoke to me quite a bit and I really couldn’t put the book down. I wanted to soak in all the words all at once. I’m sure other people feel the same way but I know it feels better reading pieces of art that express exactly how you feel or how you felt once. There’s comfort in knowing that other people are in the same boat as you and that you aren’t alone. The collection of poems does just that in several different ways.

One difference between Milk and Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers that I liked was that in her second book Kaur included a few longer poems that dove even deeper into meaning. I enjoyed reading these pieces in particular because there was so much more to absorb and so much more to understand. Reading them more than once just intensified the meaning and revealed more and more about the feelings behind the words.

I highly highly highly recommend reading both of Kaur’s books. They are moving and so perfect. I know I’ll be saving them a spot on my shelf for years to come.