Score: 94+/100 (9.4+ out of 10)
SACRED is a powerful, emotion-filled poetry book by O'Cyrus. It is definitely one of the better poetry books we've read. That's saying a lot considering we've probably read about a dozen or so in the last three years.
SACRED blends aspects of a memoir with some poems that take a pseudo-biographical angle, discussing and speculating on the experiences of other people the author has encountered in their life—from the homeless, to military veterans, to friends and family. And adding to the beauty of this book, the author demonstrates a variety of poetic skills. Every poem is different from the others. Rhyme schemes change. Meter changes. The subjects and topics, as we've alluded to, also change.
There are some sensitive things discussed in this book that may be triggering to some, so be forewarned. There are discussions of domestic and child abuse, sexual abuse, and suicide (among other things). However, it's not exploitative; rather, there's a compassionate, caring angle to all of it. The poet seems to care and wonder if there's anything we can do to better help those who are going through abusive situations or who are feeling suicidal, or if there's more we can do to help the homeless, particularly those who've served our country.
Let's discuss that poem about the homeless veteran for a moment because it particularly sticks out in our minds. It encapsulates some of the themes of the book: showing compassion to people and not judging (or jumping to conclusions about) people. It is easy to judge or jump to conclusions about someone you haven't gotten to know. It's easy to say that they're in the bad situation they're in because of their own mistakes, drugs, or alcohol. Well, what the poet seems to have realized in the story they tell in this poem is that the homeless man is actually a victim of circumstances-- a divorced businessman whose business failed during the pandemic.
If there's anything that can be said about these pseudo-biographical parts, it's that the poet puts themselves in the shoes of these people.
Another set of poems puts you in the shoes of a person of color, rejected and criticized by society and finding themselves behind the wheel during a traffic stop (“Not Black Enough” & “Please Don't Kill Me”), being in danger of being shot if they even removed their hands from the wheel to pray. It's actually one of the more unique poems, using a variety of different text sizes and styles to play up the slings and arrows a person of color faces.
Many of these poems take on a motivational, inspirational, positive, affirmative form. They champion things like finding your purpose, believing in yourself, knowing your self-value, and finding courage.
The poet continues to put the variety of their skills on display. “POSSIBLE” takes the shape of an anagram, but doesn't stop there. It flows into a series of tercets and couplets. “Wake Up” and “Look in the Mirror” employ anaphora in using the phrases “A day” and “I'm”/”I am” respectively at the beginning of many lines.
“SEESTERRR” takes a similar approach, employing anaphora with the repetition of the words “Grateful for...” while also pushing forward the ideas of gratitude and thankfulness.
There are some beautiful, powerful poems in here about brotherhood and marriage. It might bring a tear to your eye.
There's a story in here about a homosexual child who is perpetually abused by their father (and earlier by their uncle). It seems to be based on a true story that the author learned about. It is incredibly uncomfortable and sad. However, the author demonstrates another one of their techniques to punch home the emotion. A motif emerges with the poet focusing on the sound that the abusive dad's keys make, terrifying the child. Even when the child grows up, the sounds of keys or the jingling of metals terrifies them. It's visceral.
Here are some of our favorite passages, possible nominees for “Best Quote”:
“Named after an angel, murdered by a devil
Burned by flames, beaten by metal”
What great juxtapositions and piercing severity!
“Chasing your dreams can become cold, dark, and lonely
Sacrificed so much and now it's you and you only”
“Many represent nothing, and even fewer take a stance.”
Definitely check out this book if you're a fan of poetry.
It's available on Amazon!