Somebody Give this Heart a Pen

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Sophia Thakur, Somebody Give this Heart a Pen, Walker Books Ltd., February 2020, 112pp., RRP $16.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781406388534

Sophia Thakur is a young adult, spoken word poet from the UK. This is her first book of poetry. The burnt orange, textured card covered collection begins with an invitation: 

Save your heart from its silence. 

That corner of you wants a poem. 

In five sections, . . . the process, Grow, Wait, Break, Grow Again, a poetic journey of young life, faith, and resilience is offered in free verse. The tone is authoritative and straightforward. Her subject matter is normal life, love and writing. She advises: 

Find some Is to dot, and Ts to cross 

until the mess resembles poetry. 

The poetic techniques employed are simple: repetition; lineation that matches normal speech patterns; direct address to “you”; the occasional metaphor; unadorned but sympathetic portraits of characters drawn from life. In these pages we find a young spirit who has discovered for herself the therapeutic value of words on the page and has reflected deeply on the creative process. This is an accessible and instructive book for teenagers wanting to write poetry and give voice to their own experiences. The poems are  surprisingly gentle, as is this performance recording on YouTube. This is a mature, get up and keep on going collection, with something to offer both YA and older readers. Not that there isn’t pain, suffering and violence in the poems. There is. Cutting. Tears. Body issues. Death. But there is also hope, resilience and honesty, and the naming of something as God. The title poem concludes: 

Try to find space to hear what your heart says, 

Make it your best friend 

Slow down and clock back into yourself 

Give your heart a pen. 

Good advice. 

Reviewed by Julie Thorndyke 

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