Souvankham Thammavongsa

“They said the / eyes were the size of ‘dinner plates’ and / could absorb a great amount of light. Why / this was important had something to do with / where it lived, where there was no light at all.”

Thammavongsa’s newest poetry collection, Light, is absolutely beautiful.

Like this collection, my review will be short and sweet. These poems make everyday objects and experiences fresh, beautiful and exciting in ways I never thought possible. Thammavongsa takes topics like parsley, a dung beetle and a straight line and crafts them into complex and moving poems.

It strikes me that this collection is very modest. The poetry is accessible and clean. It is not complicated for the sake of being complicated and it does not sneer at those who, like myself, are not familiar with very much poetry. Reading this poetry feels calm.

This collection is also physically beautiful. It is lovely to hold this book. I have learned that Thammavongsa hand-selects the paper for her collections and I believe she has impeccable taste. The paper is textured and creamy and makes the book feel important and well thought-out.

The poems in Light play with shape and form, and sometimes the empty space on the page is just as beautiful as the ink. As a musician, I have often been told to make the rests beautiful; to make music in silence. Thammavongsa is a master of creating beauty in nothingness.

While this collection can easily be read in one setting, each poem reveals more detail and more intricate insights with each reading. For a collection with so few words, Light offers immensity to its reader.

Rating: 10/10