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Reviewed by J. Aislynn d Merricksson for Readers' Favorite
Cameron Hendricks’ Which Way is Up is a collection of poems focusing on the balance between the darker things in life with the lighter ones. I love the quote at the beginning of the first section that reminds us that you need darkness and sadness in order for 'happy’ to have a meaning. How do you even know what happy is, if you’ve never felt sadness?
Many of the poems are of a rhyming nature, which isn't my first preference to read or to write, but it really works here. To craft rhyming poems takes a fair amount of skill, especially with darker subject matter. Crafted poorly, no matter how serious your topic, they become funny at best, trite at worst.
Favourites include: 'All the Same’, which discusses scars, both mental and physical, and how we all have them. We may all have different scars, but we all, each and every one, do have them, which is a sameness we can use to bond. We all go through struggles. That is an assurance of humanity we can always bank on, even if we do not know the specifics.
‘Letters to Home’ was such a sad poem, to be so short. It made me think of my grandfather, who went through two wars (WW II and Korean), and the letters he must have sent back home to my grandmother. Thankfully he returned home. Not everyone is so lucky.
‘The Night' really touched me. It mirrored a poem I myself wrote, about how a desire for vengeance shifted to forgiveness, in the wake of my cousin's murder. Sadly, such an attitude shift only solidified my place as a black sheep of the family. A family of supposed Christians and it’s the pagan among them the only one to embrace this attitude and withdraw my support for the death penalty the DA was seeking. This young man lost his own life that fateful night anyway. The sentence ended up being life in prison, but why utterly destroy his family too?
‘Pieces of Me’ is a beautiful reflection of how I've been feeling lately, with the betrayal of certain people in my life.
Overall, I really enjoyed this poetry collection, even the 'love' poems. Another editing run-through would be a good idea, but the grammar/spelling errors are easy to gloss over when reading, and didn't detract from my enjoyment.