Marlen Komar got in touch with me and asked if I would review her book of poetry, Ugly People Beautiful Hearts. The first reason I said yes was because I am re-discovering poetry and wish to devour as much as I can. The second reason was because of the title and the cover: it sounded intriguing and lovely, yet somehow at the same time there seemed a dark edge to it. The third reason is because it was free. Sorry, but I'm from Yorkshire.
I am fairly new to poetry: by that I don't mean I've only just discovered it exists, but that I have just begun to read it for pleasure. Previously it would always be in an academic environment and that means analysis. I have discovered that I loath nothing more than analysing poetry, though I truly love analysing novels. The difference is how you feel it."My poems tell a short story in 70 poems how it feels to experience love in all its stages. How it feels to lose it, to gain it, to miss it, and to happily suffer for it. I tell a story of finding happiness and finding loss, and how all of that is a beautiful part of the human experience." (Marlen, in her email to me).
I prefer to read my poetry out loud. Marlen's poetry is not necessarily built for this, so I re-read it in my mind and found it flowed better that way. I find that this is difficult to review and rate for several reasons; one being I am limited in poetry to really compare and two being that it broke all of the poetry rules I know.
Ugly People Beautiful Hearts is written in free-form with little structure and, as far as I can tell, no rhymes. To my untrained eye, this is blasphemy against the Rules of Poetry, but it opened my eyes to what poetry truly is. At first I was surprised, shocked even, but as I got in to it I found that free-form poetry is something truly wonderful and Marlen does it so well. It actually made me realise that poetry may actually be something I myself could try, having previously always felt so restricted with the Rules and Regulations of Proper Poetry."You and your light, my dear, have changed the lives of many, many people. More than you'd think to understand." ('But God, You. Just All of You.')
The poems, as Marlen described, are about love, but not the kind of love that you usually read about in novels. It is the kind of love that hurts you deeply, but with a kind of hurt that is wonderful and beautiful to feel. It is the kind of love that really hurts, and never stops hurting, in a terrible and painful way. It is every kind of love imaginable.
Marlen's writing is at once beautiful and pained. Occasionally I found it frustrating, both because of my pre-conceived notion of what poetry should be, but also because there was often a repetition that lacked depth (and there were also too many poems that started with 'And'.) However, writing all over that frustration was the feeling that reverberated through the words: it was as if Marlen was there with me, speaking these words to me even though they were being directed to whomever she loves and loved."The scratches of a finished record, it's cracking silence patient as your lips move across mine. As you convince me to think about you tomorrow." ('A Tally of Treasures.')
There were moments of pretentiousness, but I have yet to come across a poet (and indeed very few writers) who did not indulge in pretence once in a while. It often came in tandem with the repetition so it was easily washed over. (As a side, it would have been lovely if each poem was on its own page in the Kindle, but that's just me.)
There were many wonderful moments that I call Hector Moments or Presents Moments (that's a long story, though: pronounced pre-sents, not pres-ants): those moments where you read something or see something that just connect with you; things that you might always think about but had no idea other people did, too. Moments where you all of a sudden know what life is all about or, if not that, possibly that you know what you should do next."That moment a someone reverts back into a no one and joins back to the crowd of everyone." ('Eyes That Were Once Green'.)
Wordsworth said poetry "should be the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings... recollected in tranquillity" and I do believe Ugly People Beautiful Hearts conforms to that sentiment completely. There is sadness and there is happiness, and they both cannot exist without the other. Pain cannot exist without euphoria; neither can love exist without hatred. How would you know you were in love if you had not felt hatred beforehand?"It's all so constantly overwhelming, isn't it?" ('The End. In All Senses of the Word.')