The poetry collection This Is How You Survive by Lana Rafaela Cindric is one that is an honor reviewing. When it comes to this poetry collection we can only conclude that this isn’t just any other motivational poetry collection: this is motivation!
What are the odds, to be born on the same day we know as World Book and Copyright Day? Lana was born on April 23, 1996, in Zagreb (Croatia). For her, this yearly event isn’t only her birthday. It is a constant reminder to not be insecure about her own writings. After reading her book, one can only conclude there is no need for any insecurity. She wrote a poetry collection that is impressive.
The book is divided into three parts. Three parts that tell her story; from hurt, to rise and to cherish her own self-love. This is her way of dealing with her past and moving on. 110 pages of poetry worth to read. We already saw this, when we published her poem This poem is a rescue mission. In fact, this poem was so inspiring for others, that they falsely claimed that they wrote these words.
At one point in time, the realization came she needed and deserved better. She hopes her work will bring comfort and strength to those who need this.
As said, there are three sections in this book: Ruin, Rising and Revolution.
The first part of this book tells us the story about a broken or wounded woman. One who states she wants to come home (introduction to Ruin, page 5). We find the poetess on a road or a journey, where she somehow managed to take the wrong turn at a crossing.
She doesn’t only share her story. She reflects on us. As if she wants the book to become more interactive. You have to be a fan of this writing style and sometimes, it takes time to focus on her words. But, it is worth the effort. You have to read Ruin, to fully understand why she was able to Rise.
In the section Ruin, she starts to fill in words of others. This isn’t just impressive, it is also very fragile. These words can only come from the heart and after intense analyzing.
At one point, the reader might feel a little estranged to what she writes, even when she uses the words “You said.” But, this is made up of her best efforts to debunk those words of others.
In the poem “These words are birds”, Lana takes the time to write about how she creates poetry. Or rather: to create her own art. She comes to the conclusion, without being arrogant, that her words are indeed good. This is a moment that is very familiar to many poets. The realization, that the words you used are formed into a great poem.
These words are birds
At night, I write slam poetry in my head
and damn, that shit is wild.
Here is how I can speak in rhythm,
how I open my mouth just so –
these words flow so easy buty they are birds
when I try to put them on paper –
and it hasn’t occurred to me until just now
that it might be fitting.
At night I write slam poetry in my head
and I wonder what our metaphors
are gonna look like in twenty years.
Someone once decided that things should be pretty;
be pretty when you cry,
be pretty when you stumble,
be pretty when you write and please
don’t turn another poem into revolution and blood.
I know that you grew
eating up the tales of dead revolutionaries
and that is how you saw a full heart;
a body bleeding in the streets, blood to gutter,
gutter to sea,
sea to stars,
just a man just a woman just a child and I wish,
I wish I didn’t have to write this
but that’s just how it is.
This is how it always was and I wish
I could write about starlight
but whenever I do
it is very hard because being soft –
it doesn’t come easy to me
so I string metaphors that I try to make pretty
(don’t make it a revolution don’t make it rubble
and don’t make it a bomb,
don’t make it heavy hearts, be light be soft –
My head is a cathedral sometimes and it echoes,
not with the old men who told me that I am never
going to heaven
if I like the way you spoon fed me absinthe and fuelled
my dreams with soft hands and made me feel good,
feel light like happiness is a bubble in my chest –
but steel, too,
and it is not going to burst –
I understand this now.
My head is a cathedral because this is where you come
when there is no hope.
Be pretty and yes, alright,
dye my hair blonde, smile more
even if I hate my teeth,
press my lips to his mouth, unhook –
oh no, not this time,
some lines you can’t uncross.
When I was sixteen, I cried over myself
in a bar slowly filling up with smoke –
a lifeboat filling up with water and the moment
when you realize that your last chance of salvation
is long gone.
When I was eighteen, I knew what hope
and how porcelain sounds so good
when you smash it.
So what I am trying to say with this broken tongue,
with this soul out of place,
is that at night,
I write slam poetry in my head
and my fingers are full of rings and I look good,
I do not look pretty, I am wild,
I am wild and I am a tempest and I will
draw you in,
into the blue and into magic and madness
and it will feel like coming home.
What I am trying to say is that at night,
I write slam poetry in the cathedral
of my own making,
forging stories and myths about the man
who loved the world so much –
even when it didn’t love him back,
and maybe I am trying to learn from him.
At night, I write slam poetry in my head,
in my cathedral in my bed and
it hurts like freedom
and I don’t look pretty, but I look happy,
no rings on my fingers to show that I live
but I’m getting there.
At night, I sleep in my poetry.
At night, metaphors are August nights
and I don’t carry mountains on my back.
At night, I am just a girl
with the feet in the ocean
and I don’t know what pretty means,
I don’t know what holy means,
I don’t know why your words are wind chimes
and mine are war drums.
At night, I wasn’t born because of a war,
with a war
and I do not end in a war.
this poem just ends with a smile.
Her poetry isn’t always the same as many of the poems we see on daily basis. Her poems can be considered abstract in some way, yet very personal in the other way. Sometimes it makes one believe, that her words make her able to float on them. Yes, there is a lot of pain and grief to tell about. One cannot help to ask the question if there is an ending to this. There is and it starts with the section Rising.
There must be a better time for this poetess, right? Considering she is 21-years old, she must have been through a lot. But there is a silver lining. She was able to rise. This made her stronger and the ability to love. The poem Cherry sweet is about that and about her reaching out. How is anyone able to resist, when reading these words?
I could love you in such a cherry sweet way,
our fingertips stained with childhood memories of
chipped front teeth.
Come over here, let me show you what it’s like to love
when you’ve got nothing left to lose.
No better living than when you know
it won’t last forever.
This is the art of loving when you are always leaving.
This is how you wring magic out of the dusty places.
When my lips are all sugar,
when your body is all wet heat,
don’t look at my hands.
I am sorry if it feels like ash some days.
Others will be better, I promise.
I will love you with all the grace of
a tumble down the stairs.
So come over here,
let me show you the sweetness that comes
not in spite of pain,
but because of it.
We see a poetess, who has been through a lot and learned to step beyond. And just like the poem Spread your wings, she was able to do this with one advice for us: the real savior, that is you!
And then the final section of her poetry collection. Revolution starts with those reasons to start writing (Why do you write). Every sentence is a reason for her to write. Almost every sentence starts with Because. These are her motivations to write and it is more of a poetic explanation than a poem, although not everyone would agree to this. Whatever you call it, you can only conclude that there was only one mission for her: to write. Luckily, she did!
Her most important confession follows in the last part of Why do you write. Yes, the world keeps on turning even without her, but she doesn’t want it to. This is not haughty, no, this is her way to tell us why she writes: to give strength to others.
Lana gives us so many important lessons to learn more about. Instead of letting yourself being tricked, look beyond and don’t ever confuse kindness with weakness. More people, maybe even world leaders, should definitely read the poem Flowers in desolate ground.
Flower in desolate ground
Don’t confuse kindness
Sometimes anger is kindness, too,
learning to let go and say: No,
I will love myself first.
The world doesn’t want you angry,
it would be easier to just give and give carelessly
until there is nothing to come back home to,
and love is a roar and an echo
but you can’t grow flowers in desolate ground.
So be kind and be patient but know that
you can love like spring and riot like summer
at the same time
and you can offer and want, at the same time.
When I beg you to be kind
(because the world is cruel enough as it is)
this is what I mean –
Love yourself first,
find your place under the sun and refuse to give it up,
fight fiercely and care even more so.
You are not simple,
you are a galaxy coming home to itself
and when they tell you that you can’t love and be
bare your teeth
and open your heart.
All this “talk” about love and self-love, doesn’t make her an expert. This is what she explains to us in The Hunger. She takes the time, to tell us she is not the inspiration but needs to be inspired. Well, that is kind of hard, considering this work of Lana is very inspirational (and motivational).
This is the work of a poetess, who saw things, who experienced things. These weren’t always the nicest moments and the moments she would later regret. But it wasn’t just to fill the pages in her book. One has to see what she wrote about the things that were difficult but made her able to rise. There is only one conclusion to this book: it is meant to inspire and is a motivation for those in need.