It’s been a while since I discussed a poetry collection on my blog, so when I spotted Kimberly Ray’s Coffee Shop Sessions II on Booktasters I snapped it up. This collection is divided into four chapters or sessions: Love, Travelling, Reflective, and Nature. As you can probably guess, each session consists of poems surrounding that particular topic.
The poems as a whole were very enjoyable. Ray switches up styles throughout the collection – from rhyming poems to longer free verse – so the reader never gets bored. It also highlights her skills as a poet as she moves effortlessly between each style successfully. In particular, I was most impressed with the ‘Nature’ and ‘Reflective’ sessions. The nature poems were very beautiful with a lot of lovely imagery, yet there was also a sense of solemnness lurking beneath the language; this concern for the natural world and global warming lingered alongside the evocative imagery. This gave these poems more depth and relevancy to the current political climate. The ‘Reflection’ section I enjoyed for a different reason. I felt it was the most personal, and I really got to know Ray as a person. The struggles of being a writer, the trials and tribulations that come with writing poetry, were explored and I was particularly fascinated by them. Ray seemed very honest about that aspect, and that made me enjoy the poems more.
The problem I have with Coffee Shop Sessions II is not the content, but the structure. As I mentioned, the collection is split into four chapters. But not all are given the same amount of time. The ‘Love’ session dominates the book; it makse up more than half of the collection which, in turn, means the others are significantly smaller. The ‘Travelling’ session only contains three poems; I enjoyed all three but I would have liked more. By contrast, having so many poems dedicated to love means a lot of them blend into one another. It was hard to separate them after putting the book down. Love and relationships are obviously subjects Ray is interested in exploring, but having one chapter dominate at the expense of the others makes the collection feel off-balance.
Overall, Coffee Shop Sessions II is a decent poetry collection. Ray is obviously a talented poet as seen by her use of different styles and techniques. But the layout of the collection lets it down and doesn’t showcase Ray’s writing as well as it could have. Having a better balance between chapters would help make the collection a lot stronger and help the poems stand out more.
Coffee Shop Sessions II: Moving Mountains One By One is published independently and you can find more information here.