Cover Image: The Grief We’re Given

The Grief We’re Given

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Member Reviews

The Grief We’re Given by William Bortz – publishing 2 Feb 21.

I would like to extend my thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for sending me this book in order for a fair, frank, and honest review.
The layout of this book is so incredibly bad. There are backslashes in between words, no sentence structure at all which left me unable to read it.  I appreciate that it is an Arc however it was impossible to read.

2 stars.
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Dieser Gedichtband handelt von Verlust und Trauer und von der Leere, die geliebte Menschen in unserem Leben hinterlassen. Es wird thematisiert, was der Tod bedeutet und was das Leben ausmacht. Der Autor verwendet eine sehr bildliche Sprache und erzeugt beim Leser das Gefühl, eine Geschichte erzählt zu bekommen. Dementsprechend sind seine Gedichte und Texte meist etwas länger, sodass man sich in sie hinein fallen lassen kann. Er hat zahlreiche persönliche Erfahrungen aus seiner Kindheit und Jugend in die Texte eingewoben, welche neben den Hauptthemen auch auf Gewalt und Traumatisierung in der Kindheit schließen lassen.

Mir hat sehr gefallen, mit welchen Worten der Autor seine Gefühle und Gedanken beschreibt. Ich war von seinen Texten nicht nur gefesselt, sondern hatte das Gefühl, seine Erlebnisse und Emotionen mit den Händen greifen zu können. Obwohl die meisten Texte von Verlust und Leere handeln, waren sie sehr abwechslungsreich aufgebaut und gestaltet. Gelegentlich hat sich der Autor von Liedern inspirieren lassen oder sich inhaltlich auf diese bezogen.

Sehr empfehlenswerte 4,5 Sterne.

In English:

This volume of poetry is about loss and grief and the emptiness that loved ones leave in our lives. Another theme is what death means and what life is all about. The author uses very pictorial language and creates for the reader the feeling of being told a story. Accordingly, his poems and texts are usually a little longer so that you can let yourself fall into them. He has woven numerous personal experiences from his childhood and youth into the texts, which, in addition to the main topics, also suggest violence and traumatization in childhood.

I really liked the words the author uses to describe his feelings and thoughts. I was not only captivated by his texts, but also had the feeling that I could grasp his experiences and emotions with my hands. Although most of the texts deal with loss and emptiness, they were structured and designed in a very varied manner. Occasionally the author was inspired by songs or related to them in terms of content.

Highly recommended 4.5 stars.
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4 stars. This was a poetry collection that I really liked and connected with. Color me surprised cause I've been touch and go with the genre as of late. Review to come.

Due to being a high school English teacher, I am often behind on writing reviews. Here is a summary of my initial thoughts.
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An oftentimes heartfelt and gripping exploration of grief. Some of the poems really touched me, and some of them fell a little flat. Overall an excellent collection
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There were a lot of poems that I enjoyed in this book, and several that I'll want to go back to, which is always a good sign for me when reading poetry. I like reading about grief, trying to understand it through others' eyes and find parallels to my own experience. There were times when I was able to do that with this book, but I felt that certain poems were stronger than others, or that some poems were strong in a few lines but not overall. A lot of this comes down to personal preference/writing style; I didn't always love the structure and formatting of poems. Many were styled sort of as prose poems when I felt they'd be better served with line breaks.
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I finished this book a couple days ago, but I needed to rest the reading, in order to know how I felt about it before writing this review.

I believe that this book was not completely to me. Maybe, it was because I love some of the poems, yet others I didn’t like a lot. I think that something that made me not enjoy some of the poems was my level of English and I am so sad about this.

I want to say that I really loved the “definitions” of some words that the author, William Bortz, made in the anthology. I had seen this before, but it is a literary device that I enjoy a lot of.

To sum up, an interesting collection of poems that I recommend to people that are native or have a high level in English.

I want to express my gratitude to Netgalley and Central Avenue Publishing for giving me the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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3 stars 

I received an ARC from Central Avenue Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

A debut collection of poetry from William Bortz exploring the personal and collective journeys through grief. The Grief We're Given traverses the uncertainty and harsh realties of grief from the moment of loss, all while offering hopeful glimpses into subtle moments of peace. 

I have mixed feelings about this one. I went in looking for something to grasp onto in my own grief journey, and perhaps my expectations were too high. I found many of the poems to be so abstract I couldn't grasp the author's intent, whereas others held me and offered a sense of solace. My inability to fully connect and understand may be more a reflection on me, than of the author's profound writing. It's definitely important to note that poetry is extremely personal as well. I understand everyone's grief journey is different, and felt the dimensions of grief reflected throughout. One of the things I really loved about this collection is the emphasis on grief being all encompassing, yet possible to live with. The inclusion of nature metaphors was also wonderful. 

This collection of poetry is good for readers in between contemporary and the more abstract styles of poetry; those who love to read between the lines, enjoy short poetry, or who may be experiencing their own unique grief journey.
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2.5 to this collection. Which is so disappointing because the beginning was really strong! 

At first I was completely struck by the visceral and evocative images in the poems. Some of them were so original and unique they hit me with a literal force.


Birthday “have you ever felt inspiration for something ceasing / once, I saw a bird collapse out of the blueness is was once kept in / it plummeted, in silence, and I thought how nice it would be to find rest on this afternoon”

Blade of Grass “the movement of intimacy being not where a blade of grass could be placed between our bodies but how far away [we] are from everything else” 
“Intimacy- / delicate and hungry like a gun beneath a pillow”

Paramount “in a dark sea profoundly large something like the love of a parent”

War Paint “everything can be / quiet and pretty / with the right amount of / disbelief”

Unfortunately, it went down hill quickly and never came back up. 

I much preferred his poems that were more narrative. That had concrete details and told stories. Maybe this my is preference for prose showing, or maybe those were the ones I was able to connect with because they gave me something to hold onto. Some poems were so abstract I had no thread to grasp. I can’t picture holding light, or what stardust is. Not only are they weak word/image/metaphor choices, they’re cliche AND overused. Stardust was mentioned 8 times in various poems, variations of hold/held 38 times and light 68 times. On the one hand, continuity and reoccurring images and themes can make a collection stronger than its individual parts. And there were a few places it was done well. However, the repetition was way, way too much. Especially for a 125 page book. And it was of basic “poetic” words. Bone (25 mentions), body (28), name (42), breath (43), hand or parts of it (87) Why was pith used 6 times!? Face (32), tongue (23), sun (42 times!), moon (21), and more words (like echo, smoke, and shadow) that were used over a dozen times each. This to say, the poems became very repetitive and cliche. I was ready to be done about 35% of the way through. 

I wonder if it was this abstractness that made me sometimes feel a little “eye-roll” about the book as it went on. I hate to say that about a collection centering on grief, especially because I consider empathy so important. But believing in emotions as a person is different than believing in them as a reader. As a reader, you as the author have essentially promised to prove your credibility to me. As a human I would NEVER ask that. But writing needs to do so in order to avoid sentimentality and cliche and a whole host of things. Its the essential of answering that dreaded question “so what?” 

Basically, I was mostly not convinced. It felt over-dramatic, sensationalized. It feels like the grief was used for artistic gain, rather than the art being used for emotional gain or coping. If that makes sense. There were poems that made him feel “credible,” these being the narrative ones I mentioned that endeavored to tell stories.

Inversely, I took issue with the short poems. The ones that were essentially haiku length. Its hard to make an impact in that amount if space and Bortz failed to do so. The poems felt less like finished works and more like ideas you’d scribble on a notepad at night or in your phone in the middle of a grocery store. Ideas you then need to sit with and develop. That step seemed skipped. 


In the Dark, in a Room of Still Bodies
“Grief is a communion we take separately / but eat and drink together”
Thats it, thats the poem. Similarly:

Today, the Sunrise Looks Like it Can Hold Me
“One day I decided to take a step / and it hurt less than standing still”
This feels like tumblr poetry.

I do have to say his titles are very strong. And I actually appreciated his structure as well. I liked the lack of punctuation (big deal comin’ from a prose gal!) and line breaks that didn’t follow sentence or phrase rhythm. It made me really have to invest in the poems to comprehend them, and it allowed Bortz to use phrases and images in multiple ways based on what they preceded and were preceded by. The overall affect was languid and pleasant. 

Stand out poems for me: 
October and Everything is Breathing 
Lavender Lining
Concerning the Existence of Guardian Angels
Farewell Language

Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for the advanced copy! Despite the review, I’m glad to have read it.
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While much of the poetry was quite vivid, I found that a lot of the formatting was distracting and made much of it less impactful that it otherwise could have been.
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Thank you so much to the publishers and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this eArc in exchange for my honest review.

I absolutely love reading poetry books. There's something about them that just find a way to capture a piece of someone's soul in their words and through that, we can learn so much about them. I was very interested in this particular collection with the overall experience with grief. 

I'll admit that many of the poems I struggled to understand. I had a feeling I was reading and interpreting it wrong compared to how the author would have done so, but that's also the beauty of people. The poet may try to read in a certain way but not everyone will interoperate it like that.

The poems that did get through to me absolutely destroyed me. Everyone deals with grief in a different way and through this poetry, I felt the heartache and personal connection that the poetry had with grief. 

Just on a brief note of the arc itself: In some cases, I was unsure where one poem ended and others started. I'm not sure if this is how the layout was supposed to be but at times it confused me.
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I have mixed feelings about this book. It was so hard for me to rate this one. Reading about grief can be a bit difficult. Everyone deals with grief differently. There were some poems that felt powerful to me while a few feel a bit “flat”. I felt like some of the poems didn’t flow well, but there were definitely some pieces that I could relate to. 

I loved that some of the poems were inspired by songs. Knowing the names of the songs and lyrics can provide a glimpse of what Bortz may have been trying to communicate. 

*Thank you NetGalley for providing an arc in exchange for an honest review.*
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This is a review of the phenomenal poetry collection, The Grief We're Given by William Bortz, which I gave 5/5 stars.

"all which I haven't known is all I ever feel"
As the title suggests, this collection all revolves around a theme of grief. The poems all touch on different aspects of the same emotion but truly emphasize how the feeling is all-encompassing, but yet possible to live and thrive with.

General Thoughts and Writing
"what is hope if it isn't worth losing everything for"
Filled with raw emotion and tender longings, these poems were spectacularly crafted to break your heart, but also help you put it back together. These poems took me on a journey of discovery and acknowledgment. They felt both otherworldly and familiar in a sense. One of my favorite aspects of these poems was the cosmic and nature-themed imagery. They created such a bewitching and captivating vibe, they truly furthered the essence of the poems.

The collection was written in a few different styles, and while some worked better with Bortz's writing than others, none felt lacking in importance or emotion. Each poem felt complete and strong on its own. 

Final Thoughts
"one day I decided to take a step and it hurt less than standing still"
This collection was absolutely mesmerizing! Bortz's writing was both comforting and heart wrenching in the best possible way. I was drawn in from the first line and couldn't put it down until I finished the whole book. I will surely be on the lookout for more work by Bortz and would highly recommend checking out this collection once it's released!
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Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest view. 

I was captured by the title of this book, 'The Grief we're given'. It is handed to us. It is not something we would choose but it is part a constant and it is necessary. I found much solace and connection in a number of these poems. So beautifully written, the author encapsulates so many aspects and nuances of grief that I have not yet been able to put words to. 

I did find many poems too hard for me to fully understand. I read them and reread them, picking apart the imagery and meaning but still came at a loss. That perhaps is more of a reflection on me that the author though. However, that experience mean some of the enjoyment and connection to the writing was lost in places and I had to encourage myself to read on. I do believe that will not be everyone's experience and many will find healing in these pages. 

I never mention the cover of the book but feel I cannot skip past it on this occasion. The image was captivating and it expressed something beautiful about grief to me, like a piece of art.
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Thank you to  @netgalley and @centavepub for the ARC copy

This one took me a bit to get into because they style is so different from the trending poetry styles that we have been seeing with every book lately, but that’s what made me love it so much.

This book is set to release this year and hopefully you’re able to grab a copy. 

The poetry within this book really portrays grief in its greatest light. The imagery is astounding and I honestly can’t describe William’s style of writing. Everything about this book is unique. 

William touches on other topics as well and what really stuck out to me was the way he described his realization of how small we truly are on this planet. 

If you enjoy short poetry this is not the book for you. 

“ɪ ᴀᴍ ᴀꜱ ꜱᴛʀᴏɴɢ ᴀꜱ ᴛʜᴇ ʜᴇᴀᴠɪᴇꜱᴛ ᴛʜɪɴɢꜱ ɪ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ꜰᴀɪʟᴇᴅ ᴛᴏ ᴄᴀʀʀʏ”
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I have gradually gotten more interested in poetry, particularly poetry that I think I might relate too. The fact that this book of poems would deal with grief and emotions drew me to it. 
I enjoyed the poems overall! Most of them got me feeling emotional, whether it was sadness, heaviness, relatability, or hope. (There were a lot of emotions to process!) I always like when a book makes me feel something, and this one made me feel many somethings (which I think is important particularly with poetry!) 
The shorter poems I felt drawn to the most. Many of them were a blip of a relatable thought process that made me think of my own experiences. The longer poems were very visual and painted scenes well. 
Thanks to Netgalley for this advanced reader ebook copy!
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This was an emotional collection of poems that takes the reader through the mindspace of someone dealing with grief. I liked the shorter poems better, rather than the longer ones / that used slashes like  this / to differentiate between sentences / because it was a little hard to follow / just seeing a wall of text like this. Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I would like to thank the publisher of The Grief We're Given and NetGalley for providing me with an advanced reader copy.
This is an honest review of how this collection of poems by William Bortz made me feel.
I wasn't familiar with Bortz's poetry but the title sparked my interest.
I feel grateful I read his poetry. The poems are intimate, emotional, full of metaphors and vivid imagery. It is the genre of confessional poetry I enjoy reading. I haven't experienced the loss of someone close yet but I have lost myself. I think this collection is the poet's way of making sense of the absurdity of human existence. Some of the topics here are suicide, mental health, death, existential dread, and belief in God.

A few of my favourite poems are: " There's got to be more to a human being than that", " Eulogy", " Freedom", " Control", "In piety", "Torchlight", "Today, the sunrise looks like it can hold me", "Master of nothing", "In the direction of the mountain I scream", "We are all going", "Depression machi
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@Thanks NetGalley for giving me the access to read these kinds of poems full of love and emotions.
I loved every poem, and it thrilled my heart and also my mind. I really love to read such a well written poem dedicated to love and many more. Furthermore, I give 5 stars to this book.
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This was my first time hearing the name William Bortz, let alone reading any of his work, and what a beautiful first impression has been left. Bortz dives deep into the various oceans of grief, dragging readers down with him to be swallowed whole alongside him. Bortz has the ability to make grief and desperation present in the hearts that have no reason for it. You are what Bortz is in between these pages: breathless, fatigued, frightened, and sorrowful. Amongst all of its heaviness, Bortz's words also offer moments of solace and exhalation. Like lanterns in a moonlit graveyard, Bortz invites readers into a lesson on how to hold tight to and appreciate the mundane and seemingly trivial moments in life while navigating unrelenting grief.
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This is a varied collection from William Bortz. With some poems more prose style, some 'classic' stanzas and some that are simply a potent line or two. I felt some formats suited Bortz's writing more, but that I enjoyed the differentiation and this felt to me a good reflection upon grief and how it doesn't always hit or get felt in the same ways, even within one person; sometimes it speaks quickly and fills your mind and sometimes it feels cerebral, raw and defined or defining.

It is a mixed collection, with some poems feeling particularly strong. Bortz has articulated a lot here and his vulnerability in this is admirable. There are some themes that recur and this again feels like the grief process is reflected, as thoughts are revisited and sometimes change minutely over time as we reflect on this. I loved the creativity here. For example, the poem 'tonight nothing's worse than this pain in my heart' is revisited later in the collection, with much of the content and even title crossed out, to become titled 'not this pain', with the lines then stripped right back to an intrinsic message. This technique is repeated once again in a later pair of poems too. There is clear creativity running throughout and whilst not always feeling fully successful, there are bold and interesting choices and it makes me want to continue to watch this poet.

Universal themes are reflected on and there is a lot of beauty:
"how do you ask for something not/ vital to your survival, but paramount/ in unknotting its brilliances" "Mother, you are the sky/ could you just hold me" 
"someday I will pay for them/ with my body or yours/ and I am haunted by/ not having a choice in the/ matter." 
"I am awash in temperate light and never question/ whose blood paid for these freedoms"
The lack of punctuation in many places, particularly when the poet is questioning life, does make it feel more internalised, as if hearing a direct stream from his experience and thoughts.

Grief is tangible here, sometimes weaponised, sometimes loaded, or smothering, sometimes offering a glimmer of hope. This feels a very personal reflection and so may not resonate with everyone and almost certainly won't with any reader in its entirety. It is worth a read though and some poems caused me to reflect and will no doubt be revisited. 

It is a long volume of poetry, having 87 separate poems. I do feel this could have potentially been edited down, but at the same time enjoyed walking alongside the poet as his experience evolved within grieving and a progression can be seen. 

There is hope in this work, despite it's heavy theme and I enjoyed having the privilege of insight into Bortz' feelings.

Thank you to Netgalley and Central Avenue Publishing for my advance copy.
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