Jennifer Nuesi’s Things has a simple title that belies the strength of emotion that is contained in this collection of poems. Passion, anger, anxiety, pain – all of these feelings are explored here and ripped raw in Nuesi’s examination.
As would be expected, self-examination by the poet is key to the content of Things. There is a sense of a sorting through the detritus that is left after a relationship ends and reflection on how this made the poet feel. I think for anyone who has been hurt through love (or something pretending to be love) or who has been in a relationship which is unbalanced, whether through one person being dominant or with passion verging on the physically or emotionally destructive, there is much to be found in these poems to assist, to guide, to fortify.
The feeling that I generated from my reading is that Things as a title is an understatement; a generic term applied to important and life-altering emotional experiences and contemplations that Nuesi feels compelled to explore. This may be out of modesty or perhaps, a want to draw attention to them but not to promote them; it feels like these are important but the poet is hesitant to declare this importance too boldly. Whatever the reason for such an unassuming title, this collection has moments of power where I really connected with the poems. Some favourites that are difficult to cite as there are no titles were ones with the first lines “sonnets waver”, “delicious devilry”, “like stretching forms…”, “He fiends for me nightly”, “The tongue twists in wicked ways”, “Midnight faces” and “Times change” to name a handful.
However, I did feel like the collection was too long. There is merit in all of the verses to some degree but there were times where I felt like the emotions in some of them had already been expressed, an image already used and that old ground was being re-covered. This may have been the intention, like waves of emotion. Some poems resonated more than others with the succinctness of language and the pinpointing of sentiment, making them feel “tighter” in what they were trying to express. Lack of punctuation, perhaps used to make the poems have fluidity and a stream-of-consciousness effect, meant that, for me, nuance of meaning was less obvious but may augment the experience for other readers who enjoy the looser form.
This review was first published on Reedsy Discovery where I was privileged to read it as an ARC.