It's an unassuming green-blue cover; its title a simple invitation: Pick me up. Doing so won't disappoint. Filled with quirky black and white line drawings by local artist, pigeon, it reads like a well-crafted and open-hearted journal. A glimpse into the thoughts of a world-weary traveller (New York, Melbourne, Ireland, Paris) with wisdom beyond her years. Born in Long Island, Sam is a regular performer on the poetry open mic circuit. To read her work on the page is to experience her work without the rushed time limit of a performer lineup. If you have seen Sam's captivating stage performances, you will hear her voice in your head [cue Long Island accent], as she says of her mother reviewing 'that poetry' on the back cover. I'm happy to report that this debut collection from Sam also includes her poem 'Taste of a generation' that is wowing audiences at events. It has a simple designing principle of using various tastes (bitter, sweet, salty) to compare the younger generation's experiences of navigating relationships with that of their parents. "It's sweet. Like pretending you both woke up smelling of Listerine." "It's sour. Like lime wedges coyly taken from strange lips between shots of tequila." It's an honest account of living as a twenty something and the book doesn't shy away from the harder emotional downsides of travel and the longing for meaningful connection, from a platonic shared bed or cigarette, to a brief sexual encounter. Her poetic world is a gritty one, reminiscent of the atmosphere of the beat poets, with its urban decay, hard drinking and late night conversations after copious coffee. Some of the images include detached limbs and other body parts, creating a surreal context. They reinforce the idea that permeates the poems, that longing that we all have when we are younger to unify those disparate parts of ourselves, to come to terms with our own mortality, potential and a greater awareness of our flawed condition. But there's a sense from Sam that poetry is the way of making meaning of it all. Rather than reflecting the so-called narcissism of the young ones, the reader gets a sense of hope that a little bit of compassion and a healthy dose of childlike optimism can go a long way in this world. Worth picking up.
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