Forget Me Nots is a self-published collection of poems by Tiffany Manbodh that explores the journey of finding one’s way back to self after experiencing trauma. Trigger warning: the content of the book references sexual assault and violence.
The book is divided into three sections: “The Great Fall,” “Healing & Restoration,” and “Thriving.” It’s a smart way to help readers identify the journey elements. The poems travel through time as the speaker comes forward about their trauma, learns to heal from those wounds, and eventually gets to a place where they’re no longer just surviving, but thriving.
There are lines and poems that create a cadence with a classic feel to them, like in “Eve in the Garden.”:
“But there is a God who watches over all things/So, come let us make supplication and sing.”Tiffany Manbodh
Manbodh employs the use of rhyme schemes throughout the pieces to create an approachable structure. The language and rhyming makes this collection a good introduction to poetry for readers who are often intimidated by the genre.
But there are moments where it felt like the confines of the rhyme worked against the poem. Certain poems did not feel fleshed out to their full potential as the poet adhered to keeping the end rhyme scheme in the lines. It would have been nice to see what those poems could become without those restrictions.
One of the most interesting elements Manbodh employs in certain poems is sensuality. In a poem titled “Ice Cream,” the speaker states:
“We shared a cone/Here and there, a sigh and even a moan…”Tiffany Manbodh
But the poem finishes with the speaker telling the other to go play their fantasies out elsewhere. In a poetry collection that delves into the experience of sexual trauma, pieces like this highlight the importance of both giving consent and taking it away.
Aside from the use of rhyme scheme, Mabodh proves adept at rhythm within the lines. The way the poems read forces the reader to slow down and take in each word as it relates to the next. They flow like song lyrics, creating a melodious feel when you read them.
In the poem “Pressurized,” the speaker makes smart use of metaphor to describe their experiences. The poems opening lines detail exploration of the body and testing boundaries, but not in a sensual way. Instead, it reads more like an allusion to colonization.
Some pieces in this collection read more like a diary entry than a poem, but that isn’t a bad thing. It creates an epistolary style that further invites readers to delve into poetry in an environment that doesn’t seem above their heads. Introspective lines like, “Did he love me somewhere in between?” indicate the speaker’s struggle in a way that will resonate with others who have had similar experiences.
There’s a strong sense of familial and cultural influences on the speaker’s journey to healing. One poem is called, “Guilt and its cousin, Shame.” In another poem the speaker says, “Shame and her cousin doubt paid me a visit.” This comparison of such negative feelings to a family blood tie symbolize the power the speaker’s family has. This is something many survivors contend with when healing, especially those that come from cultures that don’t talk about these things.
The standout poems in the collection are “Craft Group” and “Lavender.” The former paints a picture of a women’s support group that come together to help one another heal through feminine hobbies. It’s a wonderful depiction of the power in the female. “Lavender” creates a lush and relaxing tone that’s appropriate for the subject matter. The languid lines combined with a reverent tone put the feeling of holistic healing into words.
All in all, it’s a promising debut collection of poetry. Manbodh’s use of language and classic poetic devices show she has the potential to only get better and master the craft.