9781449494254_frontcover
She Felt Like Feeling Nothing by r.h. Sin. Andrew McMeel Publishing.

She Felt Like Feeling Nothing is one of R.H. Sin’s recent poetry collections with the predominant theme exploring women in relationships and, moments of empowerment and victimisation. 

The feminist writer (real name: Reuben Holmes), started out with a growing following on social media with earlier experimentations. A younger Holmes started out copying poems by Edgar Allan Poe from books due to be returned to his local library, wrote essays and stories in a journal and opted for a job at Target instead of going to college.

He is currently married to poet/writer Samantha King who was drawn to Holmes’ work and sent him an Instagram DM, as she wanted to share a poem that he inspired her to write. They continued to message each other all night, then continued to exchange numbers and Skype.

Holmes’ writing is largely fueled by a complicated previous relationship with a woman, whose broken heart originates from her connection to her father.

Taking inspiration through writing late into the night, his pen name r.h. Sin references “Sin”, the Mesopotamian god of the moon.

To read a bit more about the author, I recommend the following Culture profile about him in The New Yorker and the following write-up about him in The New Stack.

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I think you're strong enough to let go.

A post shared by r.h. Sin (@r.h.sin) on

Instagram Poets, have somewhat become quite a phenomenon in recent years. It is an online platform for emerging contemporary poets to find their niche and their audience.

With trending topics on relationships, love, loss, and messages of positivity and self-worth, this new generation of poets create content that is accessible to readers, in which supposedly poetry from classic literature cannot.

Instapoets create a community with their readers through the proliferation of content that includes short, bite-sized poems with visuals akin to the popular quote pictures offering daily wisdom and affirmations.

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happy #InternationalWomensDay to all the mighty and amazing women reading this message. i want to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank @Samantha.King for being not only the light in my life but also the greatest source of inspiration for everything that i do. i see a lot of messages on this topic by women for women and so i wanted to share my thoughts with all of you including the most amazing woman that i know. @Samantha.King is an example of strength and endurance. i’ve witnessed the evolution of a Queen as i’ve watched her push through and get through anything that was meant to hold her back and or keep her down. i’ve also witnessed her take a lot of time out from her life to help others deal with whatever emotional trauma they’ve experienced. my dear @Samantha.King, thank you for existing in a way that makes my life easier and also in a way that is in service to others who seek your wisdom and advice. i am so very proud of you sweetheart.

A post shared by r.h. Sin (@r.h.sin) on

The only problem with this however, is that, in trying to make language so accessible for an audience that skims and scrolls with a short attention span, it takes a very well-established form of language, writing and genre, and can occassionally, depending on the writer and the work, water down the possibilites of poetry and its impact on an audience, simplifying meaning and words, and taking away the intricate complexities that is possible in the medium for the sake of reaching a wider audience

This is exactly what it felt like reading the majority of poems in R.H. Sin’s collecion, ‘She Felt Like Feeling Nothing’.

While the intentions of the theme come from a really honest place, in a time where we really need it most (i.e. female empowerment), the repetitiveness of the vocabulary, imagery used and so forth, and the plain quality about how most of the literary items are packaged does detract from the potential that the themes presented have in impacting audiences.

It’s the largest criticism that I have for this book, that for a significant chunk of pages I wanted nothing more than to skip towards the ending.

I was almost even tempted to want to take some of the poems and rewrite them myself to enhance the vividness of each meaning, which I wouldn’t get that feeling if I truly admired the style of writing of the work.

I do admit, that I haven’t read his other collections of work, and would still be interested at a later point to have a browse, to see if this was just an example of struggling to grasp at a consistent theme.

There were some poems, in particular the ones written in first person, where the way it was visually described, it almost sounded like some pensive voice-over narration and a scene of isolation, disarray and heavy emotions, that almost felt borderline cinematic, to belong in a dramatic film…but then some fell short through simplicity, “you deserve more than someone like him” etc etc, with the waffling on beginning to happen.

As you read through the collection, each batch of poems goes from being titled as numbered scenes, to hymns, and time stamps, in addition to other attempts at yearning and the love/loss sort of vibe it tries to exude.

Stitched all together some elements feel random, or repetitive and don’t build up. I was expecting each section to sort of intensify or have slightly different themes under the umbrella of the one overarching theme, but this was not the case.

Take the same idea and reword it slightly, and this is what you get.

There were some references however to family betrayal (note ‘your sister I’ and ‘your sister II’, ‘your family, not family’) which did sort of stand out, and felt starkly different to the constant repetitions of the girl being victimised by the undeserving, abusive boyfriend…and I do feel it’s a shame because the entire collection could’ve textually explored female empowerment and victimisation in a range of areas, not just romantic relationships, but family is an example…and then there are the topics of race and sexual orientation which could’ve been explored to deliver more diverse, powerful messages.

There are some references to adolescence, and childhood as well.  ‘it began there’ (pg. 110) makes an attempt at commentary on the media and society fantasising the “bad boy” and ‘gn’ (pg. 113) about the lazy text messaging relationships of fuckbois, with aims to be relevant to modern-day readers.

While I wouldn’t say this is a favourite poetry collection I’ve had the chance to read, there actually was a short few pieces, that I’ll share that I did really like.

hymn one (pg 57)

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hymn six (pg 62)

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hymn fourteen (pg 70)

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hymn fifteen (pg 71)

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hymn sixteen (pg 72)

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hymn seventeen (pg 73)

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hymn twenty (pg 76)

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That being said I rate She Felt Like Feeling Nothing

2.5/5

With feminist writing in the age of Instapoetry being much needed as marginilised voices are increasingly heard, this 2018 collection by r.h. Sin falls short overall in delivering much needed messages of female empowerment in a way that is plain, a bit clichéd and oversimplified.

Literary lovers of evocative writing and a complex mastery of the English language, would feel a bit dissapointed in the repetitiveness displayed.

This kind of writing, however, would still have a form of mass appeal in the sense that it’s shareable to those who love sharing their favourite quote pictures, as “today’s motivation”.

R.H. Sin’s next collection involves a collaboration with Robert M. Drake titled, ‘Empty Bottles Full Of Stories’ to be released early 2019, and is available for pre-order on Amazon.

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