Published by Chupu Chupu
This is N.L. Shompole’s debut, I believe. And since it is the beginning, her little fledgling, it feels a lot like the thin bone structure of what she writes today. Cassiopeia at Midnight has a heavier focus on romance compared to Heaven Water Blood. It’s more on the sweet side and is about the small details of romantic love. Every little step in a relationship and every drop of it that evaporates as they lose touch.
Advanced Reader’s Copy
This was received for an honest review
Spectre Specter Blue Ravine is her latest collection. It’s more on the personal side, more of a self-discovery or coming of age type of collection. Where themes such as diaspora, death, loss, and the question of home and what is home are the main structure of the collection.
This one is a lot more developed compared to her previous ones. The surrealism and the fantastical kind of evaporate in the background and now it’s more about the self, but it is still present, but used more as a device for self-discovery. There are some poems that feel sort of like prose or narrative poetry, where broken relationships and loved ones who have passed are curtains and houses burning as the ‘The End’ and coming back as phantoms for forgiveness or reminders. Icarus is also a constant visitor in this collection. Unfortunately, I’m not up to date with my mythology so I can’t comment on that.
It’s about pain when realizing home is too distant, when you’re a foreigner in your own home, but yet you feel more comfortable with it because you would rather not be somewhere where colonialism or imperialism affects your every foot step. Shompole is Kenyan born but lives in the U.S. so she experiences the loss of her mother tongue from her memory and a lack of belonging between two worlds. This is an occurring theme since it ties with the loneliness of general human existence where similarities and differences are so vast and detailed that everyone is connected but yet so far out of reach and comfort. Isolated, frustrated with it, but there’s still a little something, and that is enough at times.
This is Shompole’s magnum opus, it’s my favorite one out of them all, because it just feels so much heavier on the heart.