Digital Smiles

Poetry - General
52 Pages
Reviewed on 03/17/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

Digital Smiles by E. Hughes is a thought-provoking collection of poems that offer sharp commentary on a few increasingly relevant social issues. "Birds of Prey" calls out those in the internet forums who prey on people's fears and insecurities to further their own interests. The titular poem "Digital Smiles" sheds light on those in power who use their influence on the social media landscape to drive us apart and distort the truth to manufacture their own reality. "I'm Little and I'm Scared" is a heartbreaking poem about a child trapped in the middle of a warzone. In "Just Biding My Time," the narrator longs for freedom from the everyday struggles of life. In "Following the Leader," the narrator touches upon the relationship between leaders and their followers and wonders if the world wouldn't be a better place if neither existed.

With this stimulating collection of poems, E. Hughes draws attention to the darker aspects of social media and a few relevant societal issues that the world faces today. Digital Smiles offers readers some much-needed uncomfortable truths, ignoring which might lead to dire consequences for future generations to come. Using both free verse and rhyming stanzas, Hughes provides readers with keen insights into human behavior and modern society that not only seem astute but also very poignant. Each poem is unique and brings something of its own to the larger narrative. I enjoyed every poem, and I think "Meta News" perfectly encapsulates the overall tone of this collection. If you're someone who enjoys poetry with a healthy dose of meta-commentary, I highly recommend Digital Smiles.

Jon Michael Miller

Digital Smiles by seasoned author E. Hughes is a collection of twenty-seven one-page (mostly) poems and what she refers to as “Meanderings.” Though the title, the introduction, and some of the poems express a strong objection to the world of digital misinformation and its outright cruelty, Hughes’ verses far transcend this important theme to delve into our fear of and wonder about death and to express her sense of natural beauty. Most of the poems are in structured “free” verse with rhyme and off rhyme. They are generally conversational, but often musical in their flow. In the section called “Meanderings”, the poems become more like adages, quips that encapsulate the ironies of life. Most powerful are the straight-out expressions of the dangers and pain caused by the anonymity of online communications: “Behind every digital smile, a sinister smirk is lurking.” These intriguing poems make it clear that the poet is familiar with the damage of online attacks and misinformation.

But sprinkled among the “Digital Smiles,” E. Hughes delves even more deeply into the traditional poetic themes of life and death. In “The Day Is Nigh,” she appears to be contemplating her own end of life, how quickly time falls through our fingers, even death’s oblivion, as if we were never here. In “Why I Write,” Hughes compares her poems to “puddles of shimmering streams,” an apt metaphor for the poems in this collection, a volume which she states is to be her final publication of poetry (though I hope not). Then, for me, there is one poem— “Saturate”—which stands out above the others in its superb address to the beauty and power of romantic love, the only poem in this collection that sings about this theme: “… sweet against my flesh/rain unto a desert flower.” Digital Smiles is much, much more than a creative and oh-so-true warning about digital age devastation. This book, like all fine poetry, bares an exquisite human soul.

Philip Van Heusen

In Digital Smiles, E. Hughes shares the mystery and deceit of digital living. It has been said you can be anything you want to be on the internet, and Hughes mourns the loss of reality through the deceptive reality of perception through social media. The poet understands that reality is fleeting and difficult to discern when fantasy presents itself as truth. This collection is full of feelings since poetry tends to sum up the depth of human emotions. Many of these poems are light and enjoyable, but some deal with the reality of false leaders and war. I found the poetry in this collection to be delightful and thought-provoking. The poems are an accurate portrayal of life in the digital age.

E. Hughes’s works in Digital Smiles reveal her spirit and soul. Although many people in the modern world like to avoid reality, Hughes does not shy away from speaking the truth. Her poems are easy to read and relatively short. They will cause you to stop and think about what they mean. Poetry is a form of shorthand to prose, so her poems pack a wallop in each line. While exploring the perceived reality of the digital world, Hughes does not discount or shy away from true reality. This book is a great example of a balance between what we think is real and what is actually real. This is one poetry book I am glad to add to my library. It will add fuel to times of introspection and an understanding of reality.