Review – Rituals

“The clock is driving itself insane, going around in circles”

– Lorcán Black, A Lesson in Needle Work

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Rituals, released on the 31st of May this year, from NetGalley and the publisher April Gloaming Publishing in exchange for my honest review. 

I want to begin as always, by saying that this review may contain thoughts and opinions that could spoil the book for you. 

The blurb for this collection states that “Black’s poetry illuminates the wonder in all of us.”…”this collection fortifies our nature to hunt for a life worth living.” Which pretty much perfectly sums up how I felt about this work.

“God is a deaf woman half gone,

knitting her gaudy silks,

each stitch a vicious mistake”

– Lorcán Black, Asylum

Let’s talk about language! The language that Black uses in Rituals is phenomenal. It is interesting and emotive, as I read this I found myself coming back to certain stanzas and repeating them aloud. They smack you in the face, you wouldn’t imagine these metaphors on your own, but once you hear them it feels like they perfectly reflect what the author is trying to show you.

“You the black shore I have broken away from,

madness a simple tithe.”

– Lorcán Black, Invocation of Ishtar

I really appreciated the topics that Black explored in this collection, they were dark and almost animalistic. Unfortunately, I didn’t particularly enjoy the majority of the poems as a whole, rather I found specific lines in the poems that I could vibe with. 

“that if there were any trees left

and the breeze made one bit of difference,

you could remember what normal felt like:

a hand on a teacup not trembling.”

– Lorcán Black, Aleppo

This collection was looking like a solid 2.5-3 out of 5, I found it hard hitting and I really appreciated the thoughts it evoked, but I wasn’t connecting with it as much as I wanted to. Then I came across one poem in particular titled ‘Aleppo’. It blew me away, I read it, stopped, read it again and felt my heart jump. I actually laughed out loud, and if you’d read the poem you’d think I was sick. But I’m telling you, this poem is honestly the best poem i’ve read in years. I wrote it in my journal, I read it aloud over and over again, I even cried! It is a stark and honest reflection of the reality some people face and yet still so beautiful and lyrical.

So for that reason, I have decided that my rating for Rituals had to be at least 3.5-4 out of 5 stars. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, but those of you who do appreciate poetry that is quite metaphoric and gritty pick this up. I will say though, if you can, read Black’s poem ‘Aleppo’ it will break your heart… in a good way?


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