Review by Venus Davis
Book Review: Human Tetris by Vi Khi Nao and Ali Raz
Human Tetris is a collection of missed connections and wanted ads for romantic relationships and hook-ups. Each poem is filled with wit and brutal honesty which is delightfully shocking to the reader. The jarring language juxtaposed with the intimacy of love and sex makes for an entrancing and intriguing read. The two different writers voices, although completely opposite, come together to form the many characters that make up this enticing collection.
This collection of poems has recurring themes ranging from asian identity and sexuality to longing and the desire for chaotic relationships. Each poem is not titled in a typical format either. The poems are written as missed connections with some being more true to that form than others like, “Blank ISO Blank”. For example, the first poem is titled, “Close Minded Socialist ISO cool cucumber”. This poem is the reader’s introduction to the book and the “Me: you” form that many of the poems stick to. This piece also contains the readers first exposure to the aforementioned shocking language.
“You: over 30, Asian, sexy, delusional, super yellow (from being too Asian) &
heliotropic like a sunflower from smiling too much
from loving me too much (of course).”
Each poem does not state which poet wrote it - Vi Khi Nao or Ali Raz. So, the reader is forced to be objective and really dig into separate each writing style, if they desire to do so. Some poems are titled in ways that summarize the core needings of the speaker rather than what they are in search of. A great example is “Kiss me a million times already”. This particular poem is a soft rendition of someone seeking love in the smallest way -- a kiss on the neck, a kiss on the lips, any kind of kiss. This poem is also a great example of the more traditional poetic language that sometimes finds its way into this collection.
“I am that kind of girl. The one bathed in almond milk & honey.
The one who isn’t afraid of daffodils, lilacs, nor Uhaul in the middle of the road.
The one who will kiss your neck even when the sun hasn’t gone down on the moon.”
Another important note about the form and uniqueness of Human Tetris is the handles at the end of every poem. Like twitter, instagram, tumblr, or any social media that allows you to have your own handle - each poem ends with a social media handle. Some of my favorites are: @lesbianmama, @dreamme, @vroomvroom, @ecofriendlyfemme, @ineedmorecoffee, and @yournuclearsunflower.
This is a collection of risk taking poems that each shout their presence in the book the moment you turn the page. From the constant mentions of gritty sex, food metaphors, longing for disaster, and punny social media handles - this book is chaotic in the best way possible.
Venus Davis is a 20-year-old nonbinary writer from Cleveland, Ohio. They are currently a poetry reader for Random Sample Review. Venus is also working on writing a poetry chapbook inspired by astrology. Follow their twitter for more memes, rants, and the occasional poem: @venusbeanus.