Who are we really, when we're not watching?... 

I always think about working more poetry into my reading, but I never really know what to turn to in order to do that. Fortunately, I have a friend who's a poet and he was kind enough to give me a copy of his book. 

5/5 I don't read a ton of poetry, but I had such a nice time with this short, moody, and reflective collection of poems. 

DISCLAIMER: I was kindly gifted a copy of this book by the author. I do also know him personally and follow him on Instagram (@poetrybynicholas) where he posts a lot of different types of poetry.
As someone who doesn't consume a whole ton of poetry, I'm never really sure how to judge it. I have a rather pedestrian appreciation of the art form and am mostly just affected by how it makes me feel as opposed to how I consider a novel based on how much I liked the characters, world, and plot. In the case of WHO AM I WHEN I'M NOT WATCHING? I found myself transported through a series of somber and introspective vignettes that were quite fitting for the title. Most of the poems are quite short, but there are a couple that span multiple pages. There is one in particular about a first date that has stuck with me and there were others that I also found to be quite memorable.  Dolan has a style that is raw and vulnerable in the ways that I feel like poetry ought to be. I also appreciated that it never got too dark or grungy, yet didn't shy away from exploring more difficult experiences and ideas. That's a pretty fine line to walk, but I think this collection did that well. I also appreciated that there was such a consistent theme and tone across the various pieces even though they weren't directly connected to one another. Given that this spans a mere 25 pages, I think having that cohesion was quite wise as it gave the collection a sense of clear identity but didn't go on for long enough where I tired of the overall tone. I'm not massively familiar with poetry forms, but I think Dolan employs a largely freestyle format for much of his work. There's a nice flow to each of the poems, but I'm not astute enough to have noticed if it was following any kind of metric formula. If you have a strong preference toward poems following specific structures, then this might not be for you, but I personally found it to be very easy reading. If I could make one small gripe, Dolan will sometimes post poems on Instagram that have a sort of word-art component to them and I was a little sad to see that nothing quite like that made it into this collection (though I'm honestly not sure if that would have fit with the theme, so it's probably best that this type of thing was omitted).

As a bit of an aside, I chose to read this while I was on vacation at a waterfront AirBnB. If you've never read poetry outside by the water before, then I highly recommend it as I had a nice experience reading through this in 2-3 short bursts while enjoying the sun, the breeze, and the sounds of the ocean. 

As far as I can tell, poetry books come in all shapes and sizes. This one is about as tall as a standard trade paperback, but a little bit skinnier when it comes to the width. The cover is made of a simple, but sturdy material and the cover design was really nicely done and appropriately understated in the fashion that many poetry books tend to be. It's a cute little package that I found easy to pack up for my vacation and the paper quality was decent as well. The slender page count also makes this a breeze to slip into nearly any bookshelf. I could also see it making a nice coffee table book depending on one's decor.

If you are a fan of Dolan's Instagram, then I'd absolutely recommend that you pick this up as it contains a nice mix of pieces that you might be familiar with in one form or another alongside some that you've likely never seen before. While I enjoy seeing his poems come through on my feed, there's something nice about having printed literature as well. If you're just a fan of poetry or someone like me who'd like to read more of it from time to time, then I think this might make for a satisfying and short inclusion to your collection. 

(+) A consistent tone/theme that was darkly reflective without overindulging in negativity
(+) A cute little paperback 
(+) Short, easy reading that can be enjoyed bit by bit or all in one sitting


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