I secretly wish I could turn back time and show you
what was on my mind as I looked into your eyes.
| Meeting Room.
Rating: 3.8 / 5.0
I haven’t had the privilege of following Yokelin on her journey as a poet since her debut as @poetic.janexx on Instagram, but as I thumbed through the pages of Unreciprocated, I was able to discern the growth of her character and her poetic prowess.
Now, as a poet myself, I tend to be very critical of the “modern poetry” I see on Instagram. Random line breaks and sentence fragments lose their effectiveness if used too often, and the seemingly powerful illustrations (which accompany most pieces) will be overlooked if the poet fails to utilize depth and technique in their work.
Simply put, I believe that poetry isn’t a form of literature that is meant to be understood upon first glance. Feel free to disagree. Some people prefer simplicity. Each to their own. Because to me, the joy of reading poetry lies in uncovering hidden meaning.
Having entered a giveaway hosted by the poetess herself, I was fortunate to receive a free copy of Unreciprocated. And I was pleasantly surprised to discover considerable depth in most of its pieces, making it a very successful debut to me.
I won’t be presumptuous, and I won’t assume, but it’s apparent that the poetess has encountered much pain in her life. This becomes evident in Nursing Heart, which presents a strong contrast between the narrator’s past and present feelings toward their “soulmate.”
One of the other pieces I adored was Sudden Departure, which I ended up analyzing for quite some time. I’ve attached a photo of the piece below, as it is one of my personal favorites from this collection!
By the time I reached the twentieth poem, titled Brave & Dumb, I was able to distinguish a shift in the narrator’s tone and perspective. As opposed to the hopelessness which they initially felt, they are (at this point) taking the necessary steps to heal. And though there are a few pieces inserted after which seem to be devoid of hope, there seems to be an overall sense of redemption.
Having reached this point, I couldn’t help but cheer for the narrator. Though I spend most of my time reading (and writing) poems on heartbreak, I do feel an admixture of pride and contentment when I see “narrators” taking the initiative to move on and heal. So, I guess I’m not entirely masochistic as I initially thought myself to be. Hm.
The stories we told share similarities
We decide to write our story together
inspired by our vulnerabilities.
| Our Story.
There comes yet another shift in tone in Our Story, which is prevalent in various other pieces that follow. Of all the poems that make up the more “hopeful” part of the poetess’ journey, my favorite is certainly The Vows. There’s something ever so beautiful about the way it’s been penned, for each word seems to exude a very loving kind of warmth.
By now, you must be thinking that the narrator’s feelings are reciprocated. But alas, that does not prove to be true.
Many of the poems toward the latter half of the book convey vulnerability. There are moments of self-realization and hurt, both of which are soon accompanied by a quiet understanding. The narrator wonders if their feelings are truly unreciprocated as they believe them to be, as the bearer of their beating heart seems to be giving them mixed signals.
For every time I look at you
I want to throw myself into your arms
feel your heartbeat against my cheek
taking what wasn’t mine.
| Hide & Seek.
Perhaps this is the “climax”. The poems which have been placed after the narrator’s internal turmoil convey emotional maturity. Whilst recollecting certain aspects of their bittersweet past, the narrator learns to bid farewell to their muse, which is wonderfully achieved in Final Bye.
Unreciprocated is composed of eighty-seven poems, all of which have been arranged in the order with which they were written. Through this, we bear witness to the narrator’s growth as a person, and to Yokelin’s journey as a poet.
Truth be told, the only bit in this collection that I didn’t enjoy were the occasional poems which seemed more like quotes worthy of Tumblr or Instagram. This is something I felt as I read Confusing, which reads as follows:
The most confusing thing about our relationships with people
is we are connected 24/7 on social media
but we can feel disconnected as the same time.
Although this may sound poetic, it really doesn’t qualify as poetry. But again, this is entirely my opinion. I suppose that it all comes down to personal preference. After all, what I fail to enjoy might sound quite heavenly to someone else.
And I must say that the unending cycle of heartbreak, healing, hope, and hurt might seem disheartening to most. But I admire the way it’s been executed in Yokelin’s debut poetry collection. Although the last poem ends on a rather dispirited note, we, as the readers, are reassured that the narrator will be able to face the hurt which they may encounter in the distant future.
After all, isn’t that what maturity is about?