Note: I received a free copy of this book from Online Book Club in exchange for an honest review. The Poems of Robin R. Rabii was selected as an OnlineBookClub.org Book of the Day. You can check out both the novel and other reviews here!
I was both excited and hesitant when I began reading this collection of poems. Poetry is a beautiful form of art, one that I thoroughly enjoy, but I more often than not will read random poems rather than entire collections. I was nervous that the medium would start to feel repetitive. But the author uses a variety of different voices and styles that allows the reader to feel refreshed with each poem. Some are more enjoyable and immersive than others, but overall, the collection is put together well.
Rabii touches on many controversial topics in his poems, from homosexuality, racism, and sexism, to pollution and corruption. While you may not love, or agree, with all of his work, I am confident in saying that there is something for everyone in this collection. Rabii uses both modern language and more poetic prose to convey his ideas, often blending the two together to create this odd balance that doesn’t always work, but is occasionally extremely effective.
There were a few poems that really stood out for me. The Promise of America and What Are You Waiting For, America? touches on the corruption and greed that has taken root in a land that was supposed to be the most free and welcoming on the planet. Rabii leads us through the history of America and reminds of us its true strength, of its open arms. Rabii insists that all is not lost, and that it is a “masterpiece still in the making”. It feels unbiased and truthful to both the good and evil. It’s extremely relevant to our time and a piece that I would show to anyone in my life.
I also adored Holding Hands. This is a poem about homosexuality, but honestly, I think it goes deeper than that. I think the poem is about love, in all forms. That so many people are quick to condemn love that they do not understand, or that they have been conditioned to hate, and yet they accept a world filled with so much violence and fear. In this and other poems, Rabii pleads that the world turn away from violence and hatred and instead accept peace and love. Love is beautiful, and The Great Architect Of All Reality (whichever deity you choose to believe in) is made happiest by love in any form. It’s really quite beautiful and again, relevant to our time.
While there were some truly gorgeous passages throughout this collection, there were other portions I didn’t enjoy. Rabii has a tendency of sounding preachy and almost judgmental. Some of his poems are inspiring and uplifting, others come across as direct orders, almost explicitly stating ‘if you do not do this, this, and this, you are not a good person’. What could have been extremely empowering comes across as almost hypocritical, and certainly unenjoyable.
Overall, this collection of poems had its strengths and weaknesses. I rate this book 3/5 stars. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, but there are certain poems I’ll definitely be recommending, and I would recommend the collection to avid poetry readers.
As always, thanks for reading! And remember to check out other reviews along with the book itself over at Onlinebookclub.org!