Review: No Love Lost by Shaun J. Phree, Phreedom Books
The recurring theme of Shaun J. Phree’s new poetry book is love. The backbone of the book lies and relies on matters of the heart. No Love Lost addresses our most vulnerable state, that of being in love. It speaks on it like a caged bird finally broken free from its inability to express locked emotions. Lyrically speaking, each stanza reflects to the reader in a manner to which we can all relate to at any given time.
Through a looking glass of clear, expressive and clever language, he takes us on a journey of love, pain, and heartbreak by baring it all. Phree’s poems run the gamut of emotions often exchanged in and out of relationships and doesn’t stop short at expressing the agony that often accompanies the end of our most treasured relationships. A powerful and reflective force is ever present in this poets work. The language is pervasive and breeds an exquisite symmetry found in poems such as Her Love :
i know she loves me because
her love for me
has allowed my walls to be
shattered into dust
and the past
will never again matter
because it’s all about us
Phree’s love language resonates strongly through the heartbreak he allows us to be privy to. Love is larger than one’s own experiences and there’s a certain objectivity when we apply our pain or pleasure to form a meaning that speaks for everyone, or that everyone can relate to. There is none of that here. His thoughts are the things and feelings that are entirely relatable to each and every one of us.
Phree’s poetry documents a love that begins with the chase, then the conquering of hearts, only to fail in its permanence with the realization that in the end the most memorable love is never really lost. It may fade, wane, begin to crack at the seams, but one thing is certain, it always remains. Most poetry has no expiration date and so it was easy to allow myself to be pulled deeper into a series of stanzas that not only represented the continuum of the heart before, during, and after love, but also showed a romantic dialect that reflected a brutally honest array of emotions through each phase.
In Escape he writes: “i hate that i love you/ because it’s with all my heart and soul/ with nothing in return that makes me believe we can be whole.”
Most of the poems in No Love Lost follow a poet who is a lover as much as he is a fighter. He has constructed an expose of the sometimes-painful agony that accompanies loves fate. He is wise to its highs and lows, and through his astute observance and life experience he does not shy away from giving it to us raw.
you ask how do i know i’m in love
i can’t breathe
she’s my oxygen.
Phree does not back down from the emotional complexities of relationships especially when they’re in various states of dysfunction. He writes in a manner consistent with a man on a perpetual mission of self-exploration.
who knew i of all people
could be controlled by
such a small monster
with such a big appetite
It is naive to assume that any poet’s work is autobiographical in nature, but it’s hard not to do so in this case. Clever, carefully crafted lines wrought with honest emotion run rampart here. This collection is a front row view of deep seated feeling, containing the good and the bad—at alternating intersections of ones past, present, and future experiences with love, heartbreak, and healing. Therein lies the source of power in Phree’s poetry. His language is as vivid and his rhythm is precise. Is it love or pain that carries each stanza? You decide.
Phree’s opening poem, Essence of Sexy, sets the stage for what is sure to be an eclectic collection of relevant, fresh, and hip-hop-esque poetry, gracing each and every line with the eloquence of a man on a mission to clear his mind, and most importantly, his heart. There are no pretenses, his poetry makes no promises and his words are characterized by a perceived innate authenticity. The book ends on a reflective note with Good Guys Finish Last where he concedes:
good guys finish last
but we enjoy the journey
with that one woman that’s worthy.
Shaun J. Phree
“We are currently working on a few anthologies of erotica and are looking for fresh, interesting manuscripts with at least one lgbtqqi character. Please visit out interim website: www.phreedombooks.com for more information.”