“Inhale my love, exhale your pain.” This excerpt from “Beautifully Damaged Things” is a perfect representation of the collection as a whole. The book explores love and loss, passion and pain, and everything in between.
You are drawn in from the start with the cover art illustrating a woman’s piercing gaze with a butterfly covering one eye. Another unique feature of the book is its black pages, with alternating font colors of white and grey depending on subject matter. I thought this was a beautiful contrast throughout the collection, which pulled me further into its contents.
“Tear me apart and fold the pieces into paper planes. Every one of them will always fly back to you.”
Reading FK Brown’s writing makes you feel like you’re sitting with a long-lost friend and pouring your souls out to one another over a heart-felt conversation. She describes love and heartbreak in such a raw and relatable way.
Brown addresses the pain of loving someone who has broken you and the loyalty you still feel to that person even when it hurts. She so perfectly describes our desire to hold on to the love we’ve found even after it’s gone and how we are bound to that person, finding ourselves pulled back to them over and over again.
The tone starts to shift by page 54, where the font color changes to grey and the subject matter becomes a bit darker in turn. The subject opens with this beautiful piece:
“There comes a point where you get used to the pain. It’s more of a passenger than a parasite.”
This is such a profound piece of writing wisdom. For many of us, our struggle becomes a part of us. We become so familiar with the way it feels that we start to lose track of where it ends and where we begin. We become one with our struggle as we try to adapt to our heartbreak.
The author’s pain cries out to readers from every page as she delves into the topics of self-worth and depression.
“She often retreats back into her mind instead of showing how she truly feels. She sometimes finds comfort sitting in her own prison with the door wide open, daring her to escape.”
I think a lot of us have a habit of shutting ourselves away from the outside world and retreating into the safe seclusion of our own heads. But at the same time, I think we all crave the freedom to be ourselves and to let people in. We choose to withdraw because it feels safer than being vulnerable in front of someone else. We desire human connection and love but are also terrified of what could happen to our hearts in the wrong hands.
The last section of the collection brings the first two together, with both grey and white font to patch together the pain of the darkness and the hope of brighter days. It plays back to her theme of being beautifully damaged. It is as though this last section makes no effort to smooth over the hard parts, but rather to implement them into the big picture, which is a perfect illustration of what we all do as people.
“So, I take a deep breath and try to remain brave as I bare my soul, and patiently wait to see if you still want to love me.”
This poem epitomizes FK Brown’s message. This book is about owning the things that have made you feel weak and broken. It’s about finding the strength to be open about the struggles you’ve experienced and then braver still to see who can love you for who you are. This collection is relatable and powerful in its delivery. It encourages readers to love the “beautifully damaged” things in themselves and others. Because it is our struggles that make us strong enough to shine brightly in spite of our darkest days.
This is truly a lovely collection of poetry, from start to finish. I highly recommend you give this book a home in your personal collections.