Everything Is Terrible by Alex Vellis

A review of the poetry collection Everything Is Terrible by Alex Vellis.

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Everything Is Terrible is the debut poetry collection of performance poet and festival organiser Alex Vellis, poet-in-residence for the Wise Words Festival in Canterbury.

I enjoyed this book because it wasn’t just your classic four-line, four-stanza poetry collection. This was a melting pot of different styles, different themes, and different worlds that all seamlessly combined into one with an effortless ease. Alex managed to somehow make a collection of sixteen poems feel like one long poem, but still with enough separation between each one that it wasn’t an epic poem. What I particularly liked about the collection was that it was obviously written from the heart, rather than as an outsider looking in. A lot of the time, poets write about clichéd themes like love, heartbreak and loss without fully understanding their topics. Alex, on the other hand, knows his topics intimately and writes from a place of deep understanding, which shines through in every line.

One particular poem that stood out for me was ‘The Boy Who Wouldn’t Answer The Echo,’ mostly because it spoke to me on a personal level. It becomes painfully obvious that Alex had an absent father, and having suffered similar circumstances myself, it was a particularly powerful poem to read. This poem is not one to read if you are particularly sensitive, as it had me crying like a baby, but it’s a really powerful one. The line “I had never felt so replaced, and to this day I feel the same” will resonate with a lot of people who have suffered absent parents, even if those parents don’t go on to create new families, and it was at that point that I knew I’d discovered an extremely gifted poet.

There was only one poem I didn’t quite get on with, which was ‘First Drafts Of Emails Written To Ex-Girlfriends,’ and that was purely because I don’t much go in for love poetry of any variety. It was another well-written piece, but it felt a little desperate to me, rather than being a poem about the loss of someone who has been loved. I felt that the poem could have used a slightly more delicate touch, rather than being quite so intense, but nevertheless it was an excellent piece.

This book was amazing. I knew to expect good things, but Alex completely transfixed me. I made the mistake of reading this on the train to work and was reduced to a blubbering mess! I felt incredibly sorry for the broken five-year-old boy, wanted to hug the awkward adult he’s become, and just loved every second. It’s a huge rollercoaster ride that will take you on a personal journey, and it was worth every tear. An incredible debut.

Mother of one, mental health carer and author. Nicola loves books of all kinds, and does her best to bring worlds to life.

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    I loved working on this book. I agree with you, everything feels like it fits together, which attests to Alex’s skill as a writer.
    He has two digital chapbooks that can be downloaded for free, if you want more from Alex. “Talking to impossible gods” and “unmarked graves” which can be found on whiskyandbeards.co.uk.

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