Poetry to Challenge the Senses is the first book of poems written by Donald Elix. His poetry focuses on such topics and themes as love, the imagination, travel, family, and life in general. Elix draws heavily from personal memories to craft each piece, and does so without the use of meter, rhythm, or rhyme, giving his audience a collection of poems in free verse.
On the back of Poetry to Challenge the Senses, the blurb describes this book as “thought-provoking and unique” and that “this poetry collection examines the meaning of life’s experiences in verse from a variety of perspectives.” This is all, unfortunately, false. Elix’s poetry is unique in neither what he writes about nor the way he writes it. He chooses cliché topics to focus on – love, his mother, partners, nature, religion, travel, etc. – and while it could be argued that many contemporary poets nowadays write fascinating work on these overdone subjects, Elix isn’t saying anything new. His work could hardly be considered unique when he’s just repeating the same rhetoric that’s already been covered by poets for generations before him.
Not only that, but the way in which Elix writes is devastatingly boring. There’s no poetic finesse found in his writing; it reads as if someone threw down a bunch of sentimental words and broke up their sentences with random line breaks. Just become a piece of writing is formatted to look like a poem doesn’t make it a poem, and there is nothing poetic about the words found in this book. He says things blandly and straightforward, and there is no punch to his words.
In the end, there is nothing to gain from reading Poetry to Challenge the Senses. The poems in this book are not saying anything original or interesting, and lovers of poetry would do better to look elsewhere for new poems to devour (this reviewer highly recommends Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib or Nicelle Davis).
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