BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay, illustrations by Sophia Janowitz

No Matter the WreckageGoodness gracious! I have so much to tell you about this book! Allow me to lay out some pre-reading, preparatory directions:

First, go meet Sarah Kay through her 2011 TED debut. She is so expressive and impressive both, that watching her once will give you the magical ability to hear her read the rest of her poems.

Second, now that you’ve seen and heard “B” on a stage, go find the perfect little book of the same name because that will give you yet another enhancing experience, including introducing you to the whimsical art of illustrator Sophia Janowitz, whom Kay met when both were three months old, and are therefore bound together for life. Additional note: you’ll get to know Sophia in “Slivers.”

Third, check out Project VOICE, an organization that “inspires youth self-expression through Spoken Word Poetry,” which Kay founded and co-directs with her creative partner Phil Kaye (not to be confused with her brother Phil Kay, as Sarah is not to be confused with partner Phil’s sister Aurora Sarah Kaye; bewildered? click here to learn how they are not related, nor married, nor dating, but they are somehow “two sides of the same coin”).

Now, perhaps you’re ready for Kay and Janowitz both, and their gem-like latest collaboration, No Matter the Wreckage.

What you’ll find here are a decade of expressions from an artist as a child growing into a multi-talented, multi-faceted adult. From sibling rivalry to lost love, from strangers to ancestors, from waiting to arriving, from expectations to paradoxes, Kay writes with honesty, challenge, curiosity, and always commitment.

Perhaps because of her youth (she’s just 25), a few of her early-love verses are some of the weaker links, but she makes up for any adolescent angst when she moves out in the world, exploring inequity in South Africa in “Shosholoza,” exploring extended family history in “Hiroshima,” and promising to messenger someone else’s hopeless adoration in India in “Peacocks.” She returns often to the bond with her younger brother, which provides gorgeously resonating moments in “Montauk,” “Brother,” and especially “Ghost Ship,” which inspires the collection’s title from a slightly different line, “No matter your wreckage.” She watches her parents with questioning, sometimes frightened eyes in “Hands,” “Something We Don’t Talk About, Part I,” “Dragons,” and “Hand-Me Downs.” She reaches out to her own child-to-be, once again in “B,” which of course is included here.

No, trust me. You don’t want to miss a thing,” she tells an unnamed lover in the final line of the first poem. So perfectly placed is that welcome advice, because indeed, you truly will not want to miss a moment, a phrase, a performance by the stupendous Sarah Kay.

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2014


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