"The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder" Poetry Review
Poetry is enjoying a renaissance. In fact, citing a National Endowment for the Arts study, Nikki Vanry’s June 7, 2018 Book Riot headline claims “Poetry Is More Popular Than Ever.” I’ve never been an avid reader of poetry, but I appreciate how poetry offers an opportunity to depart from the literal and enjoy some word play/experimentation.
The recent increase in poetry readers, however, has more to do with politics and resistance movements. On the December 14, 2018 Book Review podcast, “Poetry Meets the Moments,” Gregory Cowels, poetry editor for The New York Times Book Review, said, “Poetry feels like it is having a real resurgence in the culture at large. And at the center of that resurgence is specifically political poetry.” This is why it felt right to accept Emmanuella Hristova’s request to review her debut poetry collection, “The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder,” which she says analyses “romance and grief in a male-dominated world.” I can’t resist topical artistic expression.
“The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder” blends the lines between poetry, personal essay, and journaling. The poems chronicle the year Hristova navigated both a tumultuous relationship and the death of her sister. The poems in “The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder” are all free verse, and most of the poems don’t have stanzas. I appreciate the chronology of the poems; the first two thirds of “The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder” tell a story. This combined with the free verse/prose poetry structure of the poems makes “The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder” read like creative nonfiction. The last third of the book is Hristova’s #MeToo experience, though the entire collection is critical of the way men have treated her.
Though I liked some of the poems, most are a bit immature and platitudinous. For example, “upon success” says that we “pursue little green pieces of paper and ink to fill empty slots on our resumes.” The poems also lacked imagery, but the lack of imagery fit with the journal-like quality of the collection. I still wish that the figurative language in some of the poems was more descriptive. In “December 13th” Hristova writes, “You’re not leaving and I/feel like a piece of trash/you discarded.” I want more here. Does she feel like a hamburger wrapper carelessly left blowing around a car until it eventually flies out the window? Or does she feel like the what’s left of the newspaper in the alley behind my house, squished into the slush by drivers who deliberately drove over it again and again until only a smattering of pulp remained?
I would have enjoyed this collection more as a teenager. My favorite poems were the ones about Hristova’s sister. It’s obvious that Hristova loved her sister and was deeply affected by her loss. Overall, “The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder” is a short collection of poems. I read it in an afternoon. If you want to commiserate with someone about your troubled love-life or the loss of a loved one, “The Day My Kisses Tasted Like Disorder” might be the poetry collection for you.