Recently I had the pleasure of reviewing A familiar stranger by Matthew Williams. I was given a copy of the book for the purpose of being reviewed by Matthew. I’m not getting paid to write about it, and the fact that I was given the copy of the book won’t impact my review of it, so don’t worry you’ll still be getting my honest thoughts.
The collection is based around the realities of living a modern day life. It covers topics from mental health to politics, big life events and day to day encounters. There is at least one poem in there for everyone.
The author isn’t afraid to play around with layout and stanza length to, it’s a contemporary collection. You’re not going to get bored with this collection, every poem has it’s own unique spin. It’s a credit to Matthew’s ability as a poet.
The layout of this collection is very well thought out, it add to the pleasantness of the reading experience. There’s four chapters within the collection, off of which could be their own collection as they stand if I’m honest. These chapters, living, loving, falling and rising, will then be the theme of the poems that follow.
One thing I really enjoyed with these chapters was the journey they take. If you read them in order (something I don’t tend to do in poetry collections, I dip in and out) you realize that they almost create a plot to the collection, a journey that the protagonist has taken (or maybe even the authors own journey that they experienced in their own life). This is a really subtle but it’s something I loved because of how more personal the whole collection felt. Also, these chapters all have their own title page, and the illustrations for them are beautiful.
The honesty and rawness in the poems is very apparent, there were a few time where I felt my chest get tight when reading.
I think the only thing that I feel may put people off the collection is the sheer length of it, you most certainly get your moneys worth… this is a big collection, 134 pages long. I think this is fine if you want a big read, but I struggle finishing long poetry collections (however, this is a personal taste) so it did take me a long time to get through it. I mentioned earlier that I loved how there were ‘chapters’ within the collection. A few times whilst reading it I wondered if A familiar stranger could have been several collections, not one big one, with each ‘chapter’ being the theme for that collection.
Whilst I said earlier that I loved the honesty and raw emotions in the poems I think it’s worth pointing out that the author does swear in a few of the poems. I’m a bit old fashioned and don’t like reading texts with curses in them. However, in this case they were used in context to show emotion so I can kind of let it slide. From what I interpreted I don’t think there’s anything said that’s going to seriously ruffle anyone feathers, but if you’re like me and don’t like that language just be warned it’s there. It’s not something that should stop you from reading it, I just appreciate some people are like me and can be a bit jarred by them.
Poems I really liked
If you do get this collection then I’d highly recommend giving these poems a looks, these four had to be my favorite of the whole collection.
Priorities – pg 20 – it’s a very wise poem.
caution, hot – pg 36 – Short but very provoking.
dating scene investigation – pg 45- I just love the title.
underneath the lamppost – pg 69 – It’s so heart warming and tells such a sweet story.
Overall I enjoyed this read, the whole collection is well wrote and structured well. The variety stopped it from getting boring and I loved the little touches like the images to go alone with the chapter titles. There were moment where I laughed and moment where I felt a lump form in my throat, this collection is a journey.
If you are interesting in getting a copy then you can follow the link at the end of the post and that will take you to it. It’s not an affiliate link, I simply enjoyed this collection enough to want to recommend it to you guys.
Matthew also has another book called Something Changed: Stumbling through Divorce, Dating and Depression what I am going to be adding to my to read pile.
I hoped you enjoyed today’s review, it’s something I’m going to be doing a lot more of on this blog.
If you want to read A Familiar Stranger then click here!