Paper Plane Pilot Publishing, 2016
Reviewed by Kendall A. Bell
In a growing landscape where more modern poets have taken to short verse, much is left to be desired where quality and raw emotion is concerned. It has been easy for many poets to fall into the trap of passing off common platitudes and simple, undeveloped thoughts as poetry. In Unspeakable Poems, however, Sara Khayat mines a rawness and melds it with very lyrical pieces in her striking collection. Many of the poems here are in strike through format, but the words that are supposed to be unspoken are too loud, too important to ignore. Nothing in this collection is over a page long, but the pieces land several resounding punches throughout. The book is broken down into small chapters, but starts with “Shame” and ends with “Speak”, as if she has shed the shackles of shame, allowing her to reclaim her words. Some of the shortest pieces aren’t as visceral as the longer ones, and tend to rely on a little too much simplicity of language, but the collection builds strength as its read. In “Conversations With Your Ghost”, one of the collection’s best poems, Khayat strips power from someone in her past, claiming your ears are homeless/and your eyes are no longer searchlights/and your words are no longer saviors. In “(un) becoming”, which is among the best of the short poems, Khayat opines there is no room for fire in creation. She ends the collection with dream well, the only text in the final poem “Last Words”, though there is an ominous, unsettling tone in those words that resounds long after finishing this book.