“Black Heart Words & Poems” by Nikki Rawnsley

Black Heart Words & Poems

Nikki Rawnsley
Black Heart Alchemi (2022)
ISBN: 978-1959368007
Reviewed by Natalia Kavale for Reader Views (02/2023)

“Black Heart Words and Poems” is a collection of forty-two poems by marketing business leader and prolific writer, Nikki Rawnsley. It is the first volume in Rawnsley’s anthology series. This bittersweet yet beautifully woven collection explores themes of love (in all its shapes and forms), desire, heartbreak, solitude, and nature.

The author organized the book into two sections: Love is a Bitch and Wild Beast. At the end of each section, the author has left an open space for readers. She encourages them to reflect and meditate on what they read and write, how they feel based on their own experiences.

The collection contains a variety of poems ranging from lyrics, narratives, limericks, and free verses. I praise the poet’s excellent choice of words and creative use of literary devices like symbolism, imagery, alliterations, and enjambments. Although some poems require re-reading to find the meaning or message, Rawnsley wrote every one of them in an easy-to-understand language. Every poem in this collection has a story to tell, and each one is crafted to leave you feeling something. Some to make you happy, some to make you sad, and some to make you mad. And others, well, others will just crack your soul open and let out old wounds to the surface.

Reading through this collection is like riding on a roller-coaster of feelings, crafted awakens deep-rooted fears: “I crave the beauty of the day but refuse to open my / eyes in case I get burned” and heart-wrecking regrets: “Yelling at me that it was all my fault. / My fault for not protecting my heart. / My fault for being too careless trying to allow love in.” The poem Reciprocate profoundly spoke to me. At first glance, though, I thought it was just a simple poem about giving in the same measure you are receiving. However, the meaning only jumped out to me after I re-read it over five times or so. The message I got from this poem was that in a relationship, we sometimes only understand our partner’s intentions of the relationship the way we want them to be and not the way they truly are. Poems like the Reciprocate and Secrets present readers with thought-provoking questions—“Can you truly understand, or can you / only perceive from where you stand?”—that can lender your mind restless “, forcing you to re-evaluate your life and your relationships, platonic or romantic.

Whether you are in love, nursing a broken heart, on bad terms with a friend or loved one, or you are looking for a way to navigate overwhelming feelings, this collection of poems is a must-read for you. “Black Heart Words and Poems” is a lush trailer of adventurous, memorable, sweet, joyous, courageous, painful, heart-wrecking, and very relatable moments that made significant marks in Nikki Rawnsley’s life. I look forward to seeing what volume two entails.

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