Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Kissing Boys, Just For The Thrill by Jennifer Juan - Poetry Review.

"I spent so much time,
kissing boys,
just for the thrill,
that I don't remember,
how to kiss for something more."

Jennifer Juan

Jennifer Juan is a woman of many talents, working as a writer, musician, producer, filmmaker and hosting a podcast to boot. Beginning her artistic journey as a teenager, Juan graduated from the University of Greenwich and began sharing her written poetry and video projects on her website and social media. Kissing Boys, Just For The Thrill is her fourth volume of poetry, and is available in both an eBook and a physical format, exclusively through Amazon.

Find Jennifer Juan on her:

There's something intensely personal about poetry. Reading it feels much more intimate than reading a novel, and I often find it much easier to relate and identify with poetry than with prose. This collection feels especially private: it reminded me of looking through the pages of a diary you know you shouldn't be reading, viewing innermost thoughts that were kept secret from the outside world.

This collection covers a broad range of topics: from love, lust, heartbreak and joy, to racism, poverty and even a poem dedicated to Venus Xtravaganza, LGBT icon and star of Paris is Burning. Juan describes herself as having 'a lot to say' and that is definitely clear.

Of course, it's hard to know how much of Juan's work is based on real-life experiences, but the collection is at turns joyful and freeing, and at others devastating and lamentable. Throughout it all though, is a sense of resilience. There is a fire within the words of poems such as Kneeling in the Garden that underlies her determination and resolve. Juan does not seem the type to go down without a fight.

Juan describes herself as a "tornado of darkness and delicacy" - which is also the perfect description of this collection. The lyrical word choices and the evocative descriptions within her poetry are so vulnerable and raw that they form the most hauntingly beautiful heartbreak imaginable. There is a real sense of desperation in some poems, where Juan's emotions seem to spill across the pages, and yet they are so perfectly formed at the same time. This One is just 17 lines long, yet made me want to sob with its agonisingly recognisable pain.

There's a poem toward the beginning of the collection titled The Game that has stuck with me since I first read it - I can't get it out of my head. Of course, poetry is always up for some interpretation by the reader, but this stirred up feelings and memories I'd long since repressed. It's a brutal, jolting piece that deftly handles a topic that many would shy away from sharing. As soon as I read this piece, I knew I was in love with Juan's way with words.

It's not all doom and gloom though. There is a sense of empowerment, hope and confidence in Juan's writing too. Made for More and I Want to be Joan Crawford are as different as night and day, but both are full of optimism and an anticipation of the better things that will come. 

The juxtaposition of these two concepts of desperation and determination create a very powerful result. This is a collection of poems that spoke to me deeply, and I could relate each and every one to experiences in my own life. I absolutely adored reading this volume, and will most definitely be spending some time enjoying Jennifer Juan's other works.

Be sure to check out Jennifer's other work:

Do you enjoy poetry? Who are your favourite poets?


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