Produce Poetry or Die.
by Narada Voux Sanders
Welcome to the World of Narada Voux; Produce Poetry or Die, is a powerful collection of poems addressing dark themes with a raw emotion and barely suppressed rage that is, however, controlled within technically excellent structures of poetic form that play with conventionality and technique.
PPOD is not just the poet venting, but venting with careful reference to their audience, and embracing poetry in all its guises to do so with maximum impact and effect. Narada Voux has produced incredibly honest, profound and blistering poetry, with an innate beauty and artistry that make these poems fascinating, stimulating and, conversely, a joy to read.
The majority of the poems have a short sentence form, making the sentiments snap. This succinctness complements and highlights the subject matter and the welter of emotion contained within. The tight, taut structure also helps rein in what I suspect, is an almost unmanageable torrent of feeling.
There is some tough stuff here but Narada Voux is ultimately concerned with how their reactive anger to deeply scarring and unpleasant events are best transferred and conveyed through the medium of poetry, and the consequent experience for the reader. PPOD is not an indulgent mess of self-pitying, stream of consciousness introspection, quite the opposite.
The power and play of words are at the forefront of each poem. They are clever, lyrical and, in many cases, have an overlay of biting humour or satire. The intimate vulnerability that Narada Voux displays combined with sharp mockery at life’s ugliness, make the reader feel as if they are on the receiving end of a conspiratorial poetic wink.
Racism features heavily and the best discussing this were Misafrikist and Dark Coffee. I also loved the subversive White Refuge, which was thought-provokingly refreshing. Narada Voux plays a lot with reversing accepted truths and social conventions. I’m More Than What You Perceive Me to Be does exactly what the title promises but uses some interestingly different comparisons to elevate and emphasis society’s blinkered attitudes.
There are a number of poems addressing religion and, indeed, quite a few poems have biblical references and allusions. Prayer of the Broken One was brilliant, technically and emotionally. I thought I’m Job was ingenious; not only concerned with religion but the numeral motif and repetition began to de-humanise the poet’s voice, making them appear brainwashed or robotic and adding another layer of meaning to the obvious.
Love, at its most exquisitely painful is represented, Can’t Let Go is searingly poignant and, In Shreds is a study in pure, jilted rage. There are some lovely observational poems in which the wry, cynical wit is strongest; Rapoetry and You’re not Welcome are prime examples.
There are also staggeringly good, wonderfully evocative descriptive images and metaphors, ‘let the red athlete run’ when describing blood, a child referred to as ‘A Mother’s priceless art’, and alluding to a person as ‘hard and cold as old house keys’, I thought were genius lines; subtle, simple yet brutally effective.
Unusually for personal poetry, Narada Voux also plays with reader expectation by switching gender; we have poems from both male and female perspectives which are equally convincing, adding dimension and contrast to the poetry and the topics it confronts.
PPOD does not necessarily follow traditional rhyme schemes although there are some, but eye-rhymes, embedded rhymes, and word similarity flow throughout, making the poems deceptively comfortable to read. Even the more experimental forms are accessible and interesting to engage with. The NVS Glossary, included at the end, is impressive and inspired and, like the rest of the book, flawlessly presented.
Produce Poetry or Die is a remarkable, and stunningly good collection of poetry from a poet who not only knows their craft inside out, but life itself. Highly recommended.