Book Review: Through the Soul Into Life
Reviewed by Audrey Davis
A passionate reflection rooted in love and sincerity
Shoushan B’s modern yet erudite poetry collection Through the Soul into Life introduces a passionate, introspective voice of a female speaker grappling with the challenges of life, self-acceptance, and what it means to be human.
With free-verse poems prefaced by short proverbs, the speaker contemplates a range of topics such as love, loss, wealth, religion, justice, environmentalism, and humanity. Each proverb sets the tone for the section, and the subsequent poems follow the speaker’s thought process through that subject. At times it can be difficult to tell where one poem ends and the next begins, but this is intentional—it allows the work in its entirety to feel more personal, more genuine, and makes the sections flow smoothly into each other.
The speaker posits that as we encounter the many facets that make up the human condition, both negative and positive, we must “[free] [ourselves]/from the guilt of [our] existence,” to become uniquely who we are. We as ever-busy humans must remind ourselves that we are allowed to pause to feel happy, sad, shy, silly, and everything in between, to find “divinity in […] humanity.” Going a step deeper, the speaker explores motherhood, and womanhood, imploring women to show the world they exist unflinchingly and aren’t afraid to “[discard] the fragments of fault recklessly/[i]n the dump of sexism.”
In becoming individuals however, we are reminded to “[b]ring [our] head underneath [our] feet,” but not to “bury it in the ground.” This is to say, one must remain humble, but not to the point of ignoring our surroundings and our actions. As the sections of this work are interconnected, so too is everything humans do and experience. Any action will affect the present and the future, whether we will be around to experience it or not— we cannot simply “wash our hands of our future.” As humans who share the planet with many different species of plants and animals, we have a duty not only to ourselves, but to the environment and to our future to protect this planet and its resources for all who live and will live here. We are nothing if we are not kind to one another.
I would recommend this collection to anyone who is feeling stuck. The speaker’s tone is authentic and down-to-earth, and more than one section comes equipped with sharp and biting sentiments that hold truth. The speaker identifies power imbalances in multiple places, lays them out for readers to acknowledge, and issues their own call-to-action, urging everyone to step fearlessly into their own active roles in the bigger picture, whoever they may become. With everything going on with the current political, economic, and literal climate, specifically in America, it is easy to get overwhelmed and feel lost— “It takes us humans/[a] lot of courage to live.” We must attempt to overcome our hardships as best we can, but we must not forget that “[n]o matter how grandiose/[o]ur achievements are/[i]t is insignificant/[i]f love is not the essence.”
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Print Length: 184 pages
Thank you for reading Audrey Davis’s book review of Through the Soul Into Life by Shoushan B! If you liked what you read, please spend some more time with us at the links below.