Articodea Books

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By Tósìn Peters

IR Rating:
Tósìn Peters's poetry collection LETTERS TO UNTITLED offers affecting and personal observations on loss, pain, and the modern world.
IR Approved
A wide-ranging poetry collection that viscerally explores pain, trauma, and the nature of freedom.

LETTERS TO UNTITLED is the work of a vexed soul. Tósìn Peters’s collection of poetry covers topics including freedom, grief, pain, and trauma—all approached, as the subtitle informs us, “through the intricate layers of deconstruction.” The poems themselves are rendered in lowercase, giving the collection an understated, low-key feel. A fairly large proportion of them approach the Webernian in their extreme concision—many consist of a single stanza, and some are less than thirty words in length.

The collection’s subject matter is personal, sometimes painfully so. Some of it is wrapped up in a bad relationship, or worse. At one point Peters excoriates themselves for what they see as their own failings: “for how badly i let you treat me.” As the pain of separation lifts and self-discovery begins, the net is thrown wider; hope, inspiration, and the appreciation of beauty make appearances. Later, there are some well-judged excursions into capitalism and its discontents in pieces such as “the endless race” and “to be free,” as well as a brief (and at times humorous) dig at organized religion in poems such as “a sermon of love” and “indoctrination.” Frequently, there is a sense of the world and its discontents throwing curveballs at the writer, as in “sacrifice”—“all was well, / until i prayed to the gods / to set me free of all the things / that weren’t good for me… / and they took you away from me.” Peters has a knack for touching on universal truths in a way that also resonates on a personal level, and the collection’s best works do just that.

It is also true, however, that at times the extreme brevity is insufficient to unpack the idea being conveyed. When reduced to three or four lines, poetry can take on an epigrammatic quality if the language is apt. If it is not, the piece can feel undercooked. Poems like “feeling something,” which takes as its subject matter the appreciation of art, misfire because the inspiration is either too mundane or obscure for the reader to follow: “I don’t know what good or bad art looks like. / I just know that every once in a while, / I read a book or look at a painting / and I feel something.” But there is more to like than dislike about LETTERS TO UNTITLED. Peters has a cogent and vibrant voice, a good grasp of technique, and, most importantly, compelling things to say. It will be interesting to see where future collections will go.

Tósìn Peters’s poetry collection LETTERS TO UNTITLED offers affecting and personal observations on loss, pain, and the modern world.

~Craig Jones for IndieReader

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