The poems in Cries of a Tortured Soul aim broadly to document and reflect upon the emotional struggles of their speaker. This speaker’s credo is best expressed in two lines from the poem, “Misosomiso,” where she states, “Must we accept all that are [sic] thrown at us and say nothing?/ To shut my eyes because thou would want me to, I cannot!”
The volume itself is twice as large as most contemporary novels (559 pages) in an era when the majority of national poetry contests define a book of poems as 48-96 pages. Any book of this size, regardless of genre, establishes expectations for readers that a significant narrative will develop, including exploration of notable change and growth in the narrator’s life over time. Iyemere’s poems, while passionate and heartfelt, are largely static and redundant. The speaker laments a lost love and resolves to cope with this loss over and again with little variation or new insight and no specific details to engage readers’ minds and senses.
For instance, in the poem “Nova,” she states:
“Picking up the pieces of what was left of me; [sic] was hard,
Though I will tell no tails [sic] about our love affair,
This is because I am a lady nothing more,
But all; [sic] shall be added to the collection of my souvenirs!”
The final poem, nearly 500 pages later, concludes with a virtually interchangeable statement:
“The clear blue sky above and the sea view have made no difference to my life;/ These show that a life without you is difficult, means nothing; because you were my life!”
Because this collection relies almost exclusively on vague statements and general questions, it presents a series of would-be confessional poems in which nothing clear or particular is ever confessed. Combined with its immense length, this issue makes the book a challenging read, and it’s unlikely most will find themselves adequately engaged to persist to the end.
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