Poetry Review — Sorry I Haven’t Texted You Back

In need of a friend;
lonely living in a world
Addicted to pharmaceuticals

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Sorry I Haven’t Texted You Back by Alicia Cook is the poet’s sixth collection of poetry. Cook dedicates much of her life to shedding light on how drug addiction impacts the mental health of families. She released a collection of essays on the topic entitled Heroin Is The Worst Thing To Ever Happen To Me. An essayist and speaker, her activism to fight the opioid epidemic is far-reaching and has garnered a worldwide readership, and her very own episode on the Emmy-nominated PBS series Here’s the Story.

Sorry I Haven’t Texted You Back is the third collection of Cook’s poetry that I have reviewed. I am fond of her use of music and the music theme to frame her poetry. Her poems, or tracks as she calls them, are influenced by music. I can’t say for all the poems, but where I knew the music in her “currently listening to” following each poem, it was synergy. The combination of Springsteen’s “Glory Days” and “Track 89” was fantastic. Unfortunately, most of the music is after my time. The poetry, however, on its own, is substantial and moving.

Cook stands out among the younger poets in her writing. Her poetry is traditional in form and much more developed than the Instagram poetry that seems to be all the rage today; her poetry also packs much more of a punch. Deep and well-thought lines adds power to the words. It is refreshing to see traditional poetry for all readers that is actually poetry and not a collection of clichés masquerading as a poem. With that being said, the second half of Cook’s collection, “Side B The Remixes,” takes each individual Track to create a new poem or perhaps, a lyric, through blackout. Blacking out portions of the original track or hand-drawn connections of words creates another layer of meaning. A clever reader will see this as a continuation of the drawing by Katie Curcio after the dedication; what remains hidden in what we say.

Cook writes with emotions and carries her themes throughout this collection. Her emotions, although strong, are not overpowering her message. Her themes are natural without a hint of being forced. Cook exhibits a great talent that is rare today in younger poets. A master of verse.

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