If I could write like anyone, I would write like Rachel Calnek-Sugin: a review

Okay, so it’s like title says, I really really want to write like this one poet, Rachel Calnek Sugin. Recently I asked my senior, Katie, what some good poets are she recommended me a set of poems that won a prize. She had actually read one at a coffee house once. I remember taking a liking to the poem, “Ebola in Dallas:, but I didn’t ask what it was.

When I got her poetry recommendation, I went through each one individually and eventually found this poetry collection of sorts. I’m not sure if they all are supposed to go together as a set, but they all three won an award together, so I will be reviewing them together. Here is the link if you would like to read along with me. If you don’t read this review, I would at LEAST read the poems themselves. There is something so magical about them. Link to Collection

The first one is the famous,

Ebola in Dallas

To start off with this one, I just want to mention how vividly I remember the Ebola outbreak. I was in middle school, and being the anxious person I am, I was terrified of it. I was cuddled up in a comforter on my brown living room couch, and I felt paralyzed with fear. My grandparents live in Houston, and just like the poem states a lot, Dallas isn’t too far off. An otherworldly problem suddenly became one extremely close to home.

Besides my own personal connection to the poem itself, I love how the author picks apart the privilege that a lot of Americans possess. It takes a lot of guts to call out your own privilege in a piece of writing.

The repetition of ideas, like the dying baby, brought a lot to the poem, It not only makes the reader sympathize, but also empathize. It becomes a poem that isn’t just about a child dying of Ebola, but it twists it into one that is themselves or their child dying of Ebola.

At Thurgood Marshall

Living in the south, this one makes a lot of sense to me, especially being a white girl of privilege.

To recap the poem, this girl is taking the ACT at a school that isn’t their own, up in Harlem. For those who don’t know, Harlem is usually thought of an extremely unsafe neighborhood, and most even think of it is a majority African-american neighborhood.

So the tone of this poem is morphed into an uncomfortableness, not because she feels unsafe, but she feels out of place. It isn’t hard to pick up that she is obviously well-off while others are not. I love how they paint this with the dialogue. She is asked where she goes to school, and it recounts how she is ashamed to say that she goes to a school where there are smart boards in every class and that has a college attendance rate of 100%. The other kids in the class have to ask for a calculator, assumed to be because they cannot afford one.

I even think its interesting how she is aware of her own unconscious bias within the poem. Again, I think its commendable to point out ones own flaws, and want to change them.

When My Go Out I Eat Breakfast For Dinner and Pee With the Door Open


I just am utterly speechless every time I read this. This is by far my favorite in the collection. For one, the title. It doesn’t obviously have to do with the contents of the poem, but it makes me think of my own teenage life, which is a theme throughout the poem.

Again, the author points out her own flaws and hypocrisy, which is adds so much depth.

I also enjoy how she recounts her life and separate memories that wouldn’t seem like they have much to do with another, but she makes them all flow into each other. Its truly just flawless.

To wrap it up as a poem without spoiling too many specifics, the ending is done so well because of how she wraps everything back, and even makes the ending line a new punch. It made me think back to the poem, and brought a completely new element.

All in all, this collection is stunning, and I might just frame it for my dorm room.

Author: Emerson Hultman

Not gonna lie, there isn't too much to know about me. The way to my heart is Diet Coke and 2008 bops, I love writing and photography, and I will stop every time I see a dog on the street. I would say that's about it?