Review of Another Day in Paradise, H. M. Reynolds

This is Reynolds’ third chapbook and it is clear to see her writing gets better with every collection. I said this after reading Mislilac but the growth present in Another Day in Paradise is palpable. Reynolds’ work has always been raw, truthful and visceral but in this collection she interwove cutting intelligence, vulnerability and aching nostalgia.

From the very beginning with poems like Creation and Suit, Reynolds establishes the theme of this chapbook – ruminating on life so far, how far there is yet to go and   how everything feels like stumbling; nothing feels like learning. She captures the fear of being too much, not enough and a burden all at once. A feeling so many of us are plagued by, often suffering in silence. Reynolds’ words give birth to this.

I imagined Reynolds writing and reading these words in a high place – not out of superiority but in an omnipresent, omniscient sense – as her poems look left to the past, down into the here and now and right into the future. In poems like Go Between, Luna and Quint, Reynolds walks clearly through a past bogged with memories and into a foggy present and future.

There is an incredible poeticism and literary calibre in this collection too. The nine part poem Beauty is superb and put me in mind of Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto crossed with lines from Shakespearean tragedies. Reynolds’ poem, Water Torture, after Seamus Heaney is stunning also.

Finally, the vulnerability and sheer intelligence behind how the poems Spine and Punch the Clock were crafted further demonstrates Reynolds’ ever-maturing talent. In these poems she captures illness and disorder through the omission of words, discordant line breaks and swift, rhythmic pacing.

In short – read Another Day in Paradise and then get your paws on Reynolds’ new release, Hyperreal.

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