I received a copy of "I left nothing inside on purpose" by Stevie Howell from Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for a free and honest review.
I was attracted to this poetry collection by its title and cover. I admit that I had not heard of Stevie Howell before receiving the book, but as I would like to educate myself more on contemporary Canadian writers and poets, I was excited to read this collection.
Stevie Howell is an Irish-Canadian writer & editor. A first collection of poetry, Sharps (Goose Lane, 2014), was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. A second book, I left nothing inside on purpose, is forthcoming spring 2018 from Penguin Random House Canada.
Stevie’s poetry has appeared in The Best Canadian Poetry, Hazlitt, The Walrus, Geist, Eighteen Bridges, & Maisonneuve; in U.S. publications including BOAAT, Prelude, Prairie Schooner, The Cossack Review, Gigantic Sequins, & The Best American Poetry site; & in Irish & U.K. publications including The Rialto, The Moth, Southword, & Banshee. Their critical writing has been published in Ploughshares, The Rumpus, National Post, The Globe & Mail, & Quill & Quire.
Stevie is the poetry editor at This Magazine, an MFA candidate in creative writing at NYU, & lives in Brooklyn.
"I left nothing inside on purpose" blew me away. Considering the size of the book - just a handful of pages - I expected myself to breeze through it. Instead, I spent almost a month going through it page by page, discovering more and more hidden gems between broken lines and slanted dashes.
Rich in symbolism and intricate in its form, Stevie’s poetry made me pause over and over to reassess what I was reading and feeling. I will be honest - it took me some time to get used to slashes and ampersands, but by the end of the book, I couldn’t imagine it being any other way.
I love books that make me take a moment and think. More so, I love books that make me google things that I don’t know as it does not happen very often (for example, an extraordinary case and life of Clive Wearing). Reading "I left nothing inside on purpose" felt like going on a long voyage: suffering from the unyielding heat, experiencing thirst and hunger, facing danger, making unlikely friends, and finally reaching the desired shores, weathered and more experienced than before. I am certain that this poetry collection is going to be a book I keep returning to, as I feel as if I have not explored all of its depths.
I kept delaying writing this review as I felt - and still feel - unequipped to review something so intricate and sophisticated. As always, in cases of the books that make me feel inadequate and simple, I suggest that you pick up a copy of "I left nothing inside on purpose" and read it for yourself. Dissecting and analyzing Stevie’s poems feels blasphemous.
Whatever misconceptions or prejudices you might have against contemporary poetry (something I can not relate to at any level), do consider giving “I left nothing inside on purpose” a go. It has to be experienced on your own.
Rating: 4.5 stars