Reviewed by Samantha Hui
An eclectic mosaic of vulnerability
Kaleidoscope of Colors II remains singular and particular to the poet’s own personal struggles and triumphs, while capturing the shared nature of human existence. These poems are a catalogue of contradiction that emulate truth, cover themes of anxiety and memory and love in their truest forms. Readers get the chance to relive their own memories in the device of Cozzi’s singular evocations.
In Kaleidoscope of Colors II, Cozzi reckons with the death of a close friend, the aftermath of a failed relationship, the anticipations of a budding attraction, as well as the emotions that coincide with opening oneself to the vulnerability of engaging with others.
Cozzi’s poetry gives the impression of peeking at heartache through cracked fingers.
“‘Sometimes I am afraid to be this happy, Rob, because the happier I am, the more
painful it will be later,’ you offer sincerely
In an instant I decide
That I liked it better when I couldn’t hear.”
– from “Just What I Didn’t Want to Hear”
Happiness can be bittersweet. Though it can lead to heartbreak, love is a worthy-enough cause to risk the possibility of emotional annihilation. Cozzi’s efforts with this book are an attempt to speak into existence unspeakable feelings.
The book is compiled in such a way that readers can read the poems in whatever order they please. Some poems are composed of a couple succinct lines while others are long letters to friends now gone. The stories of the poems appear out of order, jumping in and out of different relationships and losses and mental states. However, reading the book in order feels as if the stories being conveyed are extracted exactly the way they appear in memory.
“Could it be that you have somehow upended
My comfortably numb existence?”
— From “Could It Be?”
Just as memories may occur in us randomly without cause, disregarding time and location, so too do Cozzi’s poems flow through in a gentle, crafted chaos.
Cozzi is a master crafter of specificity and particularity. His interests span the likes of Hemingway and Fitzgerald to Billie Eilish and Khalid; his scenes move from diner to beaches to New York rooftops. His poems thrive in distinction.
“Though it isn’t exactly jealousy I feel
But how we have different ideas about the story we’re living together
Because this is the sort of thing you would tell a friend, not a lover”
— From “The Diner’s Blessing”
What is occasionally lacking is the detail of the “you.” “You” is often invoked to refer to whoever the speaker of the poem is addressing without too much indication as to who the real-world person the pronoun is describing. While this can sometimes be quite artful, allowing the reader to hone in on the speaker and his emotions or intentions, “you” is often too ambiguous for the reader to sincerely connect with some poems.
As a whole, Kaleidoscope of Colors II is an artful study of the human experience. This book paints even loss in its most beautiful form without detracting from any of its depth or pain. These poems understand connection in separation and give language for the ideas that readers may not have the voice to say.
Print Length: 339 pages
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