Courtesy Penguin Random House

Awkward Teen Poetry as a Force for Good

Lily Myers’ YA novel ‘This Impossible Light’ examines one young woman’s eating disorder through verse.

We’ve all got those notebook pages crammed full of bad poetry skulking somewhere around in our pasts, don’t we? I know I tried to communicate the wretched angst and hormonal discomfort of my teen years in poetry. I filled page after page of three-hole-punched notebook paper with awful, unrhymed poems in a desperate attempt to communicate the hell of my perfectly safe and privileged adolescence to the world. Thankfully, I destroyed all those papers many years ago, but sometimes I can still summon a line to mind, and it invariably makes me cringe.

The ubiquity of those bad poems—the fact that everyone, including those who’d never picked up a book of poetry in their lives, writes poetry in their youth—leads me to conclude that bad poetry must serve some higher biological function. Maybe there’s something to the teenage years that can be communicated only through poetry. Perhaps those skinny columns bedecked with too many adjectives and heavy from way too much emotion are the best way to share the intensity of adolescence. Maybe complete sentences and rigorous formatting aren’t the right tool for the job.

Ravenna author Lily Myers understands that poetry is the right medium for talking about teenage years. Her new young-adult novel, This Impossible Light, is written entirely in verse. And it’s not even one book-length narrative; it’s broken up into a series of small poems, many just one page each. The atmosphere is like stumbling across some teenager’s secret journal, the hidden volume where she keeps all her dankest poetry, then reading it from front to back. The narrative, plain and clear, reads more like a diary than a collection of poetry.

Read the rest of this review in Seattle Weekly’s print edition or online here at Seattle Review of Books. Paul Constant is co-founder of The Seattle Review of Books. Read books coverage at seattlereviewofbooks.com.

More in Arts & Culture

Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards (left) brings her self-aware dance tunes to The Neptune. Photo by Eliot Lee Hazel
A Reflection on Musical Whiteness with Tune-Yards

Worldbeat art pop mainstay Merrill Garbus chats about the need creative culture to go beyond simple racial awareness in the current climate.

Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) returns to once again square off with Michael Myers in the new ‘Halloween.’ Photo by Ryan Green/Universal Studios
Still Killin’ It

Michael Myers has been coming home for decades now, ever since he… Continue reading

‘And In This Corner: Cassius Clay’ Fights the Good Fight

The enthusiastic Seattle Children’s Theatre production makes the story of a young will-be Muhammad Ali fun for kids.

Trailer Park Blues

Megan Griffiths’s Sadie taps into the dark side of teenage angst through Sophia Mitri Schloss’s strong lead performance.

Carol Burnett brings her comedic yarns to Benaroya Hall on Sunday.
Pick List: Carol Burnett, ‘Oslo,’ Sheku Kanneh-Mason

The week’s best entertainment options.

From the collection of Robert E. Jackson
The Voyeurism of Polaroids: Personal, Private, Painterly

The collection of authorless snapshots at Bellevue Arts Museum raises questions about our relationship with instant photography.

Death Cab for Cutie Headlines Deck the Hall Ball 2018

The annual 107.7 The End holiday bash moves to WaMu Theater.

Kena (Samantha Mugatsia) and Ziki (Sheila Munyiva) are beacons of light in <em>Rafiki</em>. Image courtesy Film Movement
Getting It Twisted

What to watch for at this year’s edition of Twist: A Queer Film Festival.

Most Read