The debut collection of poems Visceral from Melia Cogan is appropriately named since it will make you feel a multitude of intense emotions internally. As a person that feels intense emotions, I loved this book. The book is divided into 3 sections titled Love, Rage, and Death. Reading this book felt like going through a roller coaster of emotions-from sexy to anger to sadness. Personally, for me, this is a good thing. I resonate with poetry that makes me feel my emotions. I picked my favorite poem from each section. This was hard since all the poetry in this collection is amazing.
The first section Love captures the magical feeling of what it’s like to be in love, make love, and be loved. Her poems in this section makes even the most jaded of us feel like there is a world where love is possible. The first poem “Daemon-Lover” leaves you breathless with the raw emotion and sensuality felt throughout the poem. The second stanza is fire as it states, “With a spirit strong as seventy/As his throbbing passion sears me/ With its ‘blind encompassing throbbing power ”(Cogan, 22-25) It makes you feel like you are witnessing passion on display. You might have to take a cold shower after reading this poem. The other poems in this section not only capture the passion of being in love but also the complexity of other feelings that come with it.
The next section of the book is Rage, and you feel the anger and rage within this section.
My favorite poem in this section is Women’s Inheritance which captures the essence of what’s like being a woman in the 21st century. It addresses the misogyny that our modern patriarchal society continues to administer to women. The poem also conveys the disappointment that women feel after being used and discarded nonchalantly by men. The sixth stanza captures this feeling as it states, “Finally, you who I love with my whole self / Could not display this mythical manly bravery/ To tell me the truth/ Why not?” (Cogan, 30-33). The other poems in this section captures the anger felt with different experiences in life ranging from expectations in relationships to abandonment issues. Cogan expresses a raw truth about anger that most people are afraid to express and that is a kind of bravery you don’t see often.
The last section is Death and I’ll just say that you should have a box of tissues by your side because it will probably make you cry. In this section, Cogan is versatile in exploring the theme of death. In this section, my favorite poem is Remember Me for the Birthdays which is how the poet wants to be remembered by her loved ones. The eleventh stanza conveys this as it states, “Remember how I filled you with the urge/to push forward and explore/To engage life, expanding in all good directions” (Cogan, 37-40). Cogan is skillful at portraying grief in a conscientious manner that’s both thoughtful and respectful.
Melia Cogan brings a raw vulnerability and talent to her debut collection. I highly recommend this poetry collection if you are looking for a versatile collection that explores the depth of the human experience. I’m excited to read and review her next poetry book, Love Pangs. Below are the links for both Visceral and Love Pangs.