Review: To The Bravest Person I Know by Ayesha Chenoy

This just in, folks. Instapoetry is here, and  it is here to stay. With the likes of Rupi Kaur having their books sell like hot cakes, it seems unlikely that this trendy, shareable, and often relatable format of poetry is going away anytime soon. Now, to be honest, I’m more of a novel person, and I like my poems fairly long. However, when I started reading Ayesha Chenoy’s To The Bravest Person I Know, I tried my best to not be swayed by any kind of bias, and quite frankly, I was surprised by how much I liked it.

Instapoetry (or micropoetry) is supposed to get clicks and engagement. And the only way for any art or content to be click-worthy is to be as relatable as possible. And in my opinion, the book in question does a fairly good job at doing that. In her book, Ayesha touches upon universal themes like love, validation, friendship, and partnership.

It is also important to acknowledge why instapoetry works as well as it does. Instapoetry is undeniably far more comprehensible, but that is not to say that it lacks depth. How can something that resonates so strongly with people lack depth? Instapoetry is also far shorter than traditional poems, which works delightfully well for millenials and Gen-Z, because the internet has shortened our attention spans.

Its length also makes it more shareable, as pictures have far more reach on social media than text, which is the way most of these poems are shared online.

Now, coming back to the text, I’d reiterate that I liked Ayesha’s To The Bravest Person I Know much more than I’d have imagined. I especially liked her take on relationships, and she was spot-on in many of her observations about the dynamics of dysfunctional partnerships. While Ayesha’s shorter poems work wonderfully well, I believe her longer poems leave something to be desired.

To The Bravest Person I Know is Ayesha’s first and only book; she actually has a full-time job running one of the largest ad-agencies in India, according to the About the Author section in her book. Which is why I’m positive that Ayesha can improve her skills with longer formats for her future projects. Her longer poetry needs more work, as in it needs to be more engaging and more powerful. I tended to lose interest midway while reading some of her longer poems, but that is not to say that none of her longer poems work. Many of them absolutely do, and I loved reading them. This one, for example, was my favourite, and resonated deeply with me:

But for now, Ayesha shines the best while writing shorter poetry, which is okay, because that’s what makes up the majority of To The Bravest Person I Know.

Instapoetry is often criticized for its lack of substance, which honestly I think is a bougie way to keep away common people from becoming readers by deeming a particular kind of literature somewhat inferior. And for that, my take would be: let people enjoy things, jeez, it’s 2021.

I believe instapoetry beautifully bridges the gap between poetry and non-readers. I know so many people who wouldn’t call themselves readers but still love instapoetry, and also people who loved popular literature (like instapoetry) so much they turned into whole enthusiasts.

And let’s not forget that one of the most important functions of art is to entertain. And it is absolutely unfair to resent a particular kind of artform because it entertains more.

So, to conclude, should you read Ayesha Chenoy’s new book? I’d say, yes. If you love instapoetry, then this is something you can definitely get your hands on. If you are not much of a fan like me, but still want to experiment, I’d give you a go-ahead too. But remember to keep your bias at bay before you start it. Happy reading!

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