There are easier things to write about than a broken family, heartbreak and mental illness but Hannah Cao has always been vulnerable in her words, shaped by youth, growth, the hurt and the process of self-acceptance. This collection is more than tales from her life that truly began with a move to London, an abundance of heartbroken notes to past lovers, letters to her estranged father and love poems to a Valentine and most of all, a self. It is a journey to comfort, a journey to the shore.
With illustrations by Ngoc Anh Phan.
- Title: Seashore
- Authors Include: Hannah Cao
- Publisher: Self Published
- Genre: Poetry
- Targeted Age Range: All ages
- Trigger Warnings: Grief, divorce, eating disorder mention, poverty mention, suicice mention, depression, anxiety, estranged father, mental illness, broken family.
- Rating: ★★★★☆
I’m not the biggest poetry reader. In fact, one of my 2021 goals is to read more poetry. I don’t really know why I don’t gravitate to it like some people – perhaps it’s because I don’t really get it, or it’s because I find losing myself in a novel more favourable. Seashore by Hannah Cao is a wonderful poetry collection, effortlessly evoking thoughts and emotions from the reader using beautiful prose and striking imagery.
Hannah Cao is a wonderful writer. She has a way with words that is beautiful, filling the readers’ heads with striking images. This is the first collection of Cao’s that I have picked up, and I’m really glad I did. As a beginner to poetry, this collection was easy to dive straight into, and wasn’t hard to understand. Each poem is its own tiny narrative, varying in lengths and subject matter, however organised so precisely the reader goes on a carefully plotted journey throughout.
The collection is split into six sections, and despite them being different in terms of subject matter, each feels as if they progress on from each other in an organic and sensical nature. It feels as if, despite reading poems with atmospheres and moods, we are watching an overarching story unfold throughout the 135 pages in this collection. My personal favourite section was the first, Londoner. The way Cao writes London, and moving to London, makes it easy to picture the crowded streets and over-priced apartments. She writes London in a way that is both dreamy and realistic. It is almost as if you are looking at a photo of London taking on a film camera – grainy and gritty, but pretty overall.
The rest of the collection is also a triumph. Cao’s writing evokes so much emotion from the readers that it is compelling to turn the pages. Additionally, various poems are supported by hand drawn illustrations that are just wonderful to look at. The simplicity is enough to allow the reader insight into the intention of the poem, but are ambiguous enough to allow the reader to draw their own conclusions from the words Cao’s used. It’s a lovely addition to an already lovely novel.
In conclusion, Seashore by Hannah Cao is a lovely addition to anyone’s poetry collection. It’s a thought provoking and beautifully written collection that allows us to glimpse into the life of a young author. Hannah Cao has a wonderful way with words, evoking beautiful imagery throughout the collection, supported with equally beautiful artwork. This collection is beginner friendly, so perfect for anyone who is interested in reading more poetry, or exploring the genre. I am definitely excited to see what she produces next, and I will definitely be looking into the works listed on her goodreads profile! If you read Seashore, please be sure to let me know down below in the comments your thoughts on the collection!
Hannah Cao is a Vietnamese indie author and poet.
More popularly known as ‘capuletsbirdie’ online, after discovering her creative side intensely while living and working in London, she has sought out to create a visual space for writers and poets online while sharing her own poetry and prose.
Growing up with her nose rooted in a book, it came as no surprise that she would publish one of her own one day. Her first book, a collection of poems hand-picked throughout the years, “Seashore”, was published in February 2020 as an ode to her growth as a young woman through loss, heartbreak, mental health issues and finding love for others as well as herself.
Her debut novel, Café at 46 Old Street, an epistolary contemporary romance/drama/comedy novel, will be released in 2021.
She currently resides in Dresden, Germany.
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