The poems in An Old Soul of A Child aim broadly to document the emotional struggles of their speaker. Author Stacy Brown tells her readers on the back cover: “Like many, my adolescent years were riddled with a series of unfortunate events. […] They have aspired [sic] who I am to inspire those who may be experiencing the same situations.”
Brown’s book is arranged into four thematically grouped chapters: “Love Poems,” “Tear Jerkers,” “Stay Strong Be Free,” and “Erotic & Exotic.” While her poetry is clearly rooted in strong personal emotions, however, it suffers from several flaws. First, it is written in all capital letters, a stylistic choice that proves exceedingly distracting. Additionally, it relies almost exclusively on overly familiar language and awkward syntax. For instance, her first poem “LOVE IS WHAT????” concludes with an overused rhymed couplet: “THIS FEELING I’M HAPPY TO HAVE FROM ABOVE,/ THIS FEELING I SPEAK OF IS WHAT PEOPLE CALL LOVE….” Another poem, “BRANDED,” illustrates the problem of prioritizing end rhyme over content and rhythm: “WHAT I WANT TO DO IN LIFE AND NOT JUST BE STRANDED/ I’M HAPPY THAT YOU’RE HERE WITH ME SO FOR A MEMORY YOUR NAME I HAVE BRANDED!!!!!”
Throughout the collection, the speaker states exactly what she thinks and feels without illustrating her experiences through concrete imagery, fresh metaphors, or contextualizing, narrative details. Some examples include, “SOMETIMES I FEEL SO LONELY “; “I AM THE CHILD YOU NEVER LOVED”; and “YOU WILL NOT BRING ME DOWN.”
In sum, while replete with honest and sincere emotion, Brown’s work doesn’t employ the literary techniques required to create the necessary artistic distance between herself and her readers. The result is a book that functions more as a therapy journal than a crafted collection of poems written with readers in mind. The copious spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors further inhibit the book’s appeal to serious readers of contemporary poetry.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.