Book Smart

The Apple Orchard 3

Poetry - General
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 08/26/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

Book Smart by O Persaud is a compilation of the author's original poetry and part of The Apple Orchard series, which also includes An Open Wound, Shitolian, and Writer's Block. Persaud focuses on the inequity of education and what intelligence actually is, and the tendency for some who are the recipients of formal education to patronize those who may not by the standards set by others. However, a greater emphasis is attributed to the incorporation of intellectual concepts and words into life scenarios that embody the experiences of the general population. The intersection of literal application and word play by Persaud is what sets the collection apart on an artistic level.

I love the way poet O Persaud punches through the page with verses that have a rhythmic quality and tell a whole story in just a handful of stanzas in Book Smart. So many of the poems ache and that pain feels whole and true. For example, in two separate poems, one called 20 and the other called 30, each narrates the contrast between expectation and reality and regret as one remembers what it felt like at the time and what we see in hindsight. My absolute favorite is the piece Literature, which is a remarkable dance around words and a nod to the myth that spacial and mental clutter is a sign of chaos, and that chaos is a sign of being 'less than' its vanilla, clean-cut and well-organized counterpart. Outside the poem, we all secretly know that the best and the brightest are birthed only of chaos, and among them as the best and the brightest shine O Persaud and Book Smart.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

O Persaud has a divine sense of humor. The poem, The Art of Writing a Novel, is succinct in its hidden message that it’s insane for one to ponder the prospect of writing a novel. Anyone who has attempted, or actually written, a novel or two can certainly relate to a hesitancy, a writer’s block of sorts that prevents the writer from facing the muse head-on. There are other clever analogies. I love the poem The Difference. Each line is a soliloquy on the relevance of one’s existence. You see, it’s really all marked by time: “time/ is more valuable than money/ because time is not earned it is spent.” When you really think about it, the value of time is inconsequential and perhaps even inconceivable because it’s ‘timeless’ (no pun intended), endless and eternal, and, best of all, “every morning/ when you wake up/ your bank is reset.” The poet, of course, is making a reference to the quantity and quality of time and how each morning we have yet another day to make good use of this incredible gift. Powerful thoughts.

O Persaud’s chapbook, Book Smart, is the third book in the Apple Orchard collection. Philosophy and the need to define (or at least comprehend some aspects of) the meaning of life aside, this collection looks at a recent grad’s journey from the world of books and infinite study to the real world of life outside the confines and restrictions of the ivory tower of knowledge. The collection explores multiple ideas, concepts, theories, and what it really means to be alive. Using free verse, sometimes rhyming verse, the poet doesn’t use punctuation or capitalization, allowing the words to flow freely on the page as they flow freely within the poet’s mind. Each poem is a gem of philosophical study, challenging society and the rules that confine and enslave us. This is a book that needs multiple readings to fully appreciate the depth of the poet’s true perception of life – in the real world.

Pikasho Deka

Book Smart is an introspective poetry collection and the third book in The Apple Orchard series penned by O Persaud. The book contains poems that examine a wide range of emotions and human behavior such as hypocrisy, entitlement, socially constructed norms that block one's freedom of expression, and much more. It opens with the titular poem "Book Smart," where the narrator recounts how a person who used to outsmart everyone in the class had a hard time applying her knowledge once she grew up and faced the real world. Persaud's poems explore universal themes such as love and the value of time, showcasing the different facets of human behavior through the lens of the days, weeks, and months to signify different moods.

This is the second poetry book I've read by O Persaud, and although the approaches used in both of the works are completely different, Book Smart continues his lack of punctuation, and it somehow adds a unique flavor to the stanzas. It's easy to see that the stylistic choice is intentional. The underlying theme of the narrative seems to be how superfluous social constructs do more harm than good and serve no other purpose other than to restrict people's freedom and hold them in check. There is a difference between learning something from a book and applying its principles in the real world because the real world is quite often unpredictable. This is a provocative collection of poems that I will recommend.

Courtnee Turner Hoyle

Book Smart by O Persaud is a book of poetry that focuses on intelligence and awareness. Persaud delivers verses that bend the minds of his readers as they work out the pattern in his poetry, finding the solution in the language of his phrases. Book Smart is well-written, and O Persaud has taken care with his references to make sure the reader can find sense in them. In the absence of an author bio, the reader must relate the poems to something other than the author’s experiences, encouraging them to apply the meanings to their own lives. The poems at the beginning of the book reference scholastic concepts, and if a problem is proposed, a solution can be found in the words. The content of the poems seems to change after the author mentions turning forty. It slips seamlessly from academic applications to reflections about the seasons of his life.

The words can be read quickly, but the content is meant to be savored. The verses are written in lower-case letters, so as not to draw the reader to a particular conclusion, making the whole poem the focus instead of a few words. The free-flowing verses sometimes rhyme almost accidentally and blend together to form the idea of an intelligent being on the course to greater understanding. There are instances where the meter of the poems came across in the same beat as a rap song. I recommend the book to readers in their late teens and adults who enjoy expressive poetry and value well-timed words and phrases as they’re used to describe the human condition.