I am so excited to introduce you guys to a new collection called “breathe, Girl”, a debut poetry collection for author Niya McCray. The book is divided into 3 categories: “breathe for life, breathe for love, and just breathe.”
It is such a simple concept but so profound and powerful as a symbol for the collection. It is a reflective and meditative book about finding a way to navigate life: the good, the bad, and everything in between.
The author delves right into the collection with her introduction “breathe, Girl”. Here is an excerpt that I thoroughly enjoyed:
“You forget to breathe because you cannot sacrifice the energy;
It costs entirely too much,
But it costs much more to hold your breath…
Waiting on an escape from a reality that may never come.
Breathe girl, so that you may live.
Breathe, girl, so that you live.
Breathe girl, so you live.
Breathe girl. You live…
Breathe, girl. Live.
I think the last several lines are so powerful with their selective word omission. A poet’s power comes not only from the power to wield their words, but the power to strategically omit them as well. The poem starts with such depth and such honesty as the author explains how hard it can feel when the burdens of this life hang on your shoulders.
The poem reminds me of my own racing thoughts when I am in a state of stress or turmoil. The ending of the poem is a reminder to the author and to the readers that often when we feel overwhelmed with options and emotions, we need to first return to basics.
When we don’t feel we can take one more step, we must breathe.
As the collection continues, the author touches on a myriad of subjects such as self-identity, love, loss, mental health, relationships, and all of the things that leave us breathless (in both heartwarming and heart-wrenching ways).
She discusses heartbreak and the stress that goes into losing love and losing yourself in the process. However, the author reflects on what she feels the meaning of love is, and it really touched my soul:
“Like is a reaction
To things that provide instant gratification
Is a choice
This is so wise and true. Being liked and being loved look similar at first, but when it’s anything other than love, it will not endure. It will have conditions. It will have shallow foundations and unrealistic expectations of perfection. But, when it is love? Love weathers storms. Love exists despite flaws, despite the pain and changing circumstances. Love is always worth it.
I absolutely loved the theme of “breathing” that was present throughout this collection. When we are joyous, life can take our breath away with the beauty of love, of happiness, of wonder. When we are hurting, life can also take our breath away with how cruel it can be, how cold things can get, and how lost we can feel in our own world and our own skin.
But, no matter what subjects are being discussed… no matter what we are going through, we can always find comfort in this simple reminder: “just breathe”. We can heal at our own pace. We can step back and reflect on the happiness and the hurt. We do not have to pressure ourselves to be anyone other than who we are. We can resolve to become, resolve to move forward, resolve for more. But, at the end of the day, don’t forget the simple beauty of remembering to simply “be”.
“Resolving to be, though, seeks a half-hearted commitment
That at some future time you may begin to be
I would rather just be…”
McCray created a beautiful debut collection of poetry with soothing syntax and gentle reminders that every hurting soul could benefit from reading. I definitely recommend that you give this collection a try. It will leave you feeling refreshed and reminded of the beauty you carry inside, and the importance that you continue to carry on, that you continue to breathe.