In The Confessions of a Teenage Mystic, Mebo Nahdim plumbs the depths of his adolescent angst using a first-person narrator and structurally simple, rhyming poems. All the poems are either a one-page-long stanza or are broken up into as many as six stanzas. The regularity of length lends the book a steady pace through this young writer’s musings.
The poems are often morose and self-deprecating. Each left-hand page is left blank, giving the reader a needed pause between the frequently overwrought language, as in these representative lines: “Saddened happiness, trifling consideration / They are indeed representative of my own paradox / Contraction of a space that is maximally expanded / Due to its overwhelming saturation.”
The collection is striking for its consistency of tone, which is not so much mystical as alienated, a consciousness in some ill-defined conflict with itself, as in the poem “The Complications of Life,” in which the narrator asks, “Can a path be found through this persistent madness / That has rendered this being so very distraught?”
Here and there Nahdim manages to evade verbal excess and hits upon a striking phrase, as in the poem “Spider of Life,” whose distressed narrator implores, “What do I do? Do I die or do I / Force my heart to be abstinent?” Even though this remains fairly abstract, the first line’s repetition creates an effectively choppy rhythm and the pairing of “heart” with “abstinent” is fresh.
While general adult readers are likely to find most of the writing here unoriginal, teenagers struggling with their inner shadows and those who enjoy archaic terms and phrases reminiscent of English metaphysical poetry (such as “Lo!,” “this benighted existence” and “the clamour of my soul”) and Gothic-esque personifications (such as “thoughts continue to ravage my mind” and “Joy moves forward and consumes the darkness”) will discover a friendly sensibility in Nahdim’s lonely confessions,
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