Quarter Life Poetry: Poems For The Young, Broke & Hangry, by Samantha Jayne
This book is an example of a genre of poetry that seeks to capitalize on the suffering and general lack of life success found by many millennials who have been dealing with the problems of adulting. This appears to have been written mainly in the Great Recession period, and features a lot of the sort of insufferable whining that one can expect from young adults who have clearly not mastered the skills that are necessary to thrive in contemporary society and who were overprotected by helicopter parents who sabotaged their ability to cope with the problems of life. That is not to say that this book of poems is worthless, for though they are rather slight as poems they are at least somewhat entertaining if one wants to laugh at the author (although not too much when the comments hit a bit close to home) rather than laughing with the author. If someone is willing to troll themselves and their whole generation in exchange for having received enough money through printing a book of superficial poetry, I am not necessarily hostile to piling on to read it and critique it.
This particular book is about 150 pages long and contains poems about a variety of topics. Each of the poems fills up about four lines or so on a page with a very basic but thematic drawing over it. The author writes about such subject matter as routines, money, food, social life, sex, love, weddings, fashion, unemployment, and work. The poems are not of a high quality and typically rely on very basic reversals and a low level of expectations when it comes to excellence in writing. Still, this book seems more of an attempt at comedy in mining the loneliness of young people who go on Valentine’s Day dates with their dildos and grouse about working for their stoner former classmates and who wonder why life isn’t working out well for them than it is at writing anything approaching great poetry. This book is no William Stafford slice of life from an insightful observer of life’s absurdities, it should be remembered, but the attempts at humor from a not very perceptive person who is not aiming high with this particular collection.
This book is really a downer, for all of its attempts at laughter, as it looks at the downside of life in one’s 20’s for people who have not found luck at love and who struggle to feed themselves and find work with dignity and promise. To be sure, this book does not demonstrate a high degree of excellence as a poet, but as a tryout for some sort of YouTube or other social media commentary gig or some attempts at humor writing, this book does a better job at mining the suffering of love for lulz. I wish the author had been a better poet as this book would have been easier to recommend, but whoever did the drawings did a good job at adding the right element of immaturity and early reader quality to it. It should be admitted that this book is not for everyone; it is highly crude at parts and even at best it is whiny and cynical, and that is not going to be to everyone’s taste. Still, a broke and not very talented millennial poet has to make a living somehow, right? If this book helps keep at least a few millennials amused in the face of life’s troubles, and keeps its poet from starving, it will not be a total waste.