As I mentioned in my October wrap-up, poetry is not something I usually gravitate towards, but when I saw this gorgeous cover and intriguing title on NetGalley, I knew I had to give this a try. And I’m very happy I did.
About the book
I received this book from NetGalley as an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Genre: Poetry, LGBT+, non-fiction
Content warning: Eating disorder, alcoholism, homophobia, suicide
Release date: October 19th
Summary: A poetry collection that explores themes of family, queerness, mental health, grief, pop culture, body image, love, joy, memory, myth, and magic.
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I’m sure I’ve said this before but I sometimes struggle with poetry because it’s not uncommon that I fail to understand it. However, that didn’t happen with this collection. The language and formatting used were plain enough that the message managed to shine through and I would expect reach more people.
Let’s start with the language, which was easy enough to understand without it being any less beautiful for it. The author perfectly balances the beauty of language with making himself clear enough for a wider audience to understand. I also rather enjoyed the formatting. Sure, I preferred some poems to others, but overall it was a positive experience. A Socially Acceptable Breakdown, because of the nature of poetry, was also pretty short and quick to read.
Nonetheless, I devoted some extra time to it, mostly because some of these poems were especially harsh to read and I had to make sure I was in the right mindset before diving into them. The message of these poems was, more often than not, extremely raw. They depicted a wide range of issues and experiences that the author has lived, and some went to rather dark places. The message transmitted in each one was loud and clear, and together they formed a hard hitting picture. However, the overall tone of the collection was rather positive. It doesn’t leave you feeling in despair, but rather gives you hope for better times to come.
All in all, A Socially Acceptable Breakdown was a very enjoyable read, quite different from what I usually gravitate towards. The message was beautifully backed up by the intelligent use of language and format, which made for a beautiful and raw collection of poetry.
About the author
Patrick Roche (he/him) is an award-winning poet, performer, mental health advocate, and Carly Rae Jepsen enthusiast from New Jersey. videos of Patrick’s work have amassed over 9.5 million views on YouTube, making him one of the most popular spoken word poets. Patrick has competed or been featured at multiple national and international competitions and festivals, including placing 3rd in the world at the 2016 Individual World Poetry Slam, 2nd at the 2017 Capturing Fire national queer slam, 9th at the 2017 National Poetry Slam as part of the Bowery Slam Team, and 3rd at the 2014 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI, the national collegiate slam) representing Princeton University. Patrick serves nationally as an ambassador for the JED Foundation, promoting mental and emotional health, suicide prevention, and substance abuse awareness.
In recognition of his work as a touring speaker and performer, Patrick was named the 2020 Spoken Word Artist of the Year by APCA (the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities), and he has featured at numerous conferences and conventions including the national conferences for both APCA and NACA (the National Association for Campus Activities).
His solo stage show debuted in 2020 and was featured on BroadwayWorld. It was then selected for Dixon Place’s HOT! Festival, the longest-running festival of its kind celebrating LGBTQ theater and art.
Patrick is the author of the full-length poetry collection, A Socially Acceptable Breakdown (Button Poetry, 2021). He has also written two chapbooks: Wait 30 Minutes (self-published, 2015) and An Exercise in Necromancy, winner of Bowery Poetry Club’s inaugural chapbook competition (Bowery Poetry/The Operating System, 2017). His work has appeared in or been published by Button Poetry, UpWorthy, Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post, NBC LX, MSN, Beech Street Review, Gal Pals Present, Freezeray Press, Voicemail Poems, and his mom’s fridge. He has shared stages with Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of RUN DMC, Pitch Perfect star Brittany Snow, Everybody Hates Chris and The Walking Dead star Tyler James Williams, and Olympic Gold Medalist Chamique Holdsclaw, among others. His work explores mental health, grief, sexuality, body image, disordered eating, family, memory, love, joy, pop culture, and everything in between. Patrick is a 2014 graduate of Princeton University, where he studied Classics (specifically Latin and Greek poetry) and Education. He loves his dog very much.
Are you a poetry reader? What are some of your favourite poems or poetry collections?