National poetry month may have concluded for yet another year but I’m making a commitment to include more poetry in my TBR from now on. Now, let’s be clear, I’m not about to rush out and invest in the greatest works of William Wordsworth, I believe we should all read what we love, too many books, too little time and horror is my bag! But what I will do is continue my journey into the realms of dark poetry – a genre of poetry that definitely speaks to me in the same way as horror and gothic fiction and that I would never have discovered were it not for the advanced reader’s copy of Breathe. Breathe. sent to me by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi.
About BREATHE. BREATHE.
Breathe. Breathe. is a collection of dark poetry and short fiction exploring the surreal depths of humanity. It’s a representation of how life breaks us apart and words put us back together. Purged onto the pages, dark emotions flow, urging readers into murky seas and grim forests, to the fine line between breathing and death.
In Act One, readers are presented with a serial killer in Victorian London, a lighthouse keeper with an eerie legacy, a murderous spouse that seems to have walked right out of a mystery novel, and a treacherous Japanese lady who wants to stay immortal.
The heightened fears in the twilight of your minds will seep into the blackest of your nights, where you have to breathe in rhythm to stay alive.
“Paranoia, madness seeping in,
shifting eyes to right and left,
dilated from keeping time,
blinking each moment in unison,
silence is a benefaction that’s never to come.”
In Act Two, the poetry turns more internal and pierces through the wall of denial and pain, bringing visceral emotions to the surface unleashing traumas such as domestic abuse, violence, and illness.
“Tearing out organs,
throw against the wall,
floating wonderment, pain’s euphoria.”
In the short stories, you’ll meet residents of Valhalla Lane whose lives are on a violent parallel track to collision, a man who is driven mad by the sound of a woodpecker, a teenage girl who wakes up on the beach and can’t find another soul in sight, a woman caught in a time shift pitting her against the Egyptian goddess Anuket, and a little girl whose whole world changes when her favorite dandelion yellow crayon is discontinued.
“With the same fluid, methodical motion, her hand swept over the
knife rack on the counter beside the trash can. She pulled out the
meat cleaver, as dissociative as a daydream, went into the living
room, following the sounds of hysterical laughter on Comedy
Central, and split Ron’s head open right between the eyes.”
So what did I think?
If you have never tried poetry but enjoy dark fiction then Breathe.Breathe. is for you! If you enjoy poetry but have never explored the dark side of this literary form then Breathe.Breathe. is also for you!
The Fisherman provides a strong opening to the collection with its gloomy cobblestoned victorian streets akin to those of Whitechapel at the time of Jack the Ripper. What a chilling start to a series of poems and stories that make it extremely difficult for me to choose a favourite.
Act 1 may begin with a depiction of how murderous intent lurks within even the most “normal” people but each and every word that follows is food for the sinister soul, gently feeding the reader with a full menu of dark delicacies that represent the beastly side of humanity. Domestic violence, sickness, madness – these are the horrors that really haunt the lives we live in a way that no ghost or ghoul could.
If I was put on the spot to choose a favourite, I would say the short story The Madness of the Woodpecker somehow got to me. It demonstrates the fine line between sanity and madness that can be the cause of so much real horror in the world.
Check it out!
You can get a copy of Breathe.Breathe by Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi on Amazon UK, Amazon US, Barnes & Noble, and other bookstores. Go buy it, it will be one you will pick up and read again and again! I am still amazed this is a debut collection.
Come back for more!
After reading Breathe.Breathe. I was interested to find out more about Erin, her literary career, influences and how she even finds time to write as an exceptionally busy mum. Check back here tomorrow for the author interview with Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi and if you want to hear about some more dark reads that she recommends from other authors.