Whose Reflection Is That
by Robin Taylor
Xlibris AU

"Just because they don’t understand
What I am all about,
Does not give them the right
To make my life hell."

With short, direct stanzas, the compilation immediately hits on its main message: differences should not alienate but should rather be appreciated and embraced. Raw emotion from personal experiences exudes from the pages as Taylor depicts the realistic plight of those who are perceived as different. Born with high-functioning autism, Taylor demonstrates the day-to-day challenges endured by individuals on the autism spectrum both from a personal and societal level.

Though there is consistent structure to the poetry, stylistic nuances such as using all caps for emphasis on particular words in “Fragile Dawn,” help readers absorb the heightened sensitivity to sounds and smells that the poet himself experiences. Whether it’s pulling out eyelashes when nervous or misspeaking words to a love interest in “Awkward Encounter,” Taylor’s poems have the distinct aura of pain and resignation.

The recurring theme of hiding from society and being safe in darkness is particularly heartbreaking. In “Society is a Shadow,” Taylor captures his feelings through the shadow metaphor. The shadows come out to engage and retract on a whim, making them incomprehensible. Despite the constant anguish the poet suffers, readers see resilience in “Normal Life,” where Taylor continues to venture out regardless of how many times he has fallen.

Poetry holds the potential to let an audience into the innermost corridors of emotion. Here, the poet is capturing not just his emotions, but that of an entire group of individuals who are born on the autism spectrum. More than anything else, Taylor wants his voice heard, and in the process, he is lending his voice to an entire community. The title, fittingly, urges audiences to reflect and see past the reflections that appear on the surface. For educators and society as a whole, this is a thought-provoking compilation.

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