Poems & Prose

Poetry - General
72 Pages
Reviewed on 08/02/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

Nameless: Poems & Prose by Brian Oldham is a compilation of the author's original work on matters of the heart and exploration of the body. Oldham's work is written in free verse with a fluid composition that balances a moderate degree of lyricism and the natural rhythms of speech. Each piece varies in tone and tenor, from the lengthier and deeply penetrating A New Kind of Spring and the heartache that comes from misplaced trust and devastating loss, to I Take Many Shapes, a piece that punches through the page with a succinct collection of woven words in acceptance of form, its brevity making it a prominent standout. Artwork is frequently interspersed between the pages, and the visual portrayals give a nod to suggestive erotica in an absolutely gorgeous pointillism style.

The amount of courage required for a poet - a true artist - to lay bare their soul always amazes me, but when it is done to the exceptional standard which Brian Oldham has achieved with Nameless, it has the ability to connect on so many levels. The use of alliteration is my favorite part of Oldham's work and Fever Dreams, in particular, was a poem I returned to several times. The juxtaposition of the heated glow of new love and its abrupt transition to cold reality reads: “...standing in the outline, of fundamental truths, I feel your warmth leave...” I suppose it's slightly ironic that this poem comes toward the end of the compilation when, as a reader, I begin to feel the same sense of loss for a completely different reason. Very highly recommended.

Erin Nicole Cochran

Nameless by Brian Oldham is a poetry collection that exhibits an ethereal yet tangible hold on the reader. Creating a pull on heightened emotions that we all experience, the work runs the gamut of positive, exciting feelings such as love, all the way to the other side of the spectrum to sentiments of pain and loss. There is an exquisite dichotomy between what we see and what we feel as we read. The fuzzy images of body parts, sometimes entwined with one another, that break up the poetry and prose continue to bridge that keen level of stasis, while also keeping the reader almost in the dark and feeling around for all the pieces.

Brian Oldham’s Nameless is unlike any collection of poetry and prose that I’ve come across. To ultimately define it is impossible, for it contains such a mix of emotions and life experiences that find its way to the page and come to life. Some prose reads like concrete in your face a la Jackson Pollock, whilst other examples are softer and muted, washing the page similar to Edward Hopper’s watercolor paintings. A few of my favorite lines are on page 12, from the poem I CALL MY NAME AND THEN I HIDE: “crying on the curbside,/I left you there to lie/reaching out to grasp for greatness/eyes closed wide/I am cursive in the street…” The words are impactful, undeniable, and confusing all at once because we don’t know all the in-betweens, but Brian Oldham’s Nameless doesn’t need to be clear and understood all in one reading. Even in a hundred readings, there would be so much to discover. It has a brilliant life all of its own, and life is anything but understood and clear. It is muddy and turbulent, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Lois Henderson

Nameless: Poems and Prose is the debut work of Brian Oldham, written over a period of two years. This self-orientated collection is concerned with finding one’s inner being amid what is likely, at times, to appear the somewhat chaotic realm of gay identity. The reality and soulfulness of Oldham’s writing call forth an immediate and warm response in the empathetic reader, with the author’s black-and-white photographic illustrations rendering the text even more intimate than it would otherwise have been. Nameless: Poems and Prose should find a ready response in any young adult who is searching for validation of their own emotions in a world that, at times, feels disorientating and frightening.

As a lover and creator of modern haiku, as well as a gay woman, I found Nameless: Poems and Prose most poignant and moving. The seeming simplicity of the lines belies the depth of the emotions expressed. The author, Brian Oldham, is very much in touch with the varying moods of nature, as can be seen from the very start in his poem ‘Adrift’ in which he relates intimately to the wind as a being who also “readily change[s] direction”. The use of enjambment makes the lines flow into each other, as in ‘A Paradox of Lostness’, where the elusive opening “the crisp dawn / of my unyielding horizon / evades me” is in the next moment made tangible in the concrete imagery of “like blooming dust / in warm wet light”. In short, Oldham is very much aware of his interior universe and its responses to his surrounding environment. A very worthwhile work, Nameless: Poems and Prose should find its place in any young adult’s collection of literature and art.

Lesley Jones

Nameless by Brian Oldham is a stunning and thought-provoking compilation of poetry and prose that explores the thoughts that drive human behaviour. As a society, we are increasingly focused on materialism and our only benchmark for success and happiness is when we receive acceptance from others. In this collection, we delve into the thought processes of mankind. Why do they place others on a pedestal at a cost to their own emotional well-being? How do we gain clarity on who we truly are if we are continually denying our authentic selves? Why do we keep self-sabotaging our happiness instead of stepping into true self-awareness? Throughout this collection, you will understand the depths to which humanity will go to be accepted in society. The poems will make you evaluate your own beliefs and thoughts about yourself so you can begin to live a life that serves you in the highest possible way. This collection reminds us that to become truly whole and happy, we must learn to love, heal and forgive ourselves first.

This collection has truly blown my mind. From the first poem, Adrift, I was completely hooked. The overall theme is extremely powerful and each poem needs to be read a few times to allow the message to fully sink into your subconscious. Every poem really touched my emotions and made me reflect on humanity as a whole. The Myth Of Me highlights perfectly how society sometimes projects an image of perfection which masks the reality of feeling unfulfilled; 'selfish vanities, spurred on by the myth of me that I don’t speak to.’ The pain and suffering of relationship breakdowns and unrequited love were covered in such a poignant way. These words from Ever Flowing, I Feel You brought a tear to my eye: ‘wandering through heavy summer air and my minefields of stunted expectations, I think about calling your name and my body aches in step with cracking bones.’ Brian has truly mastered the art of encapsulating human behaviour, thoughts and feelings to touch a person's heart and make them reflect on who they are and what they want their life legacy to be. The messages throughout Nameless by Brian Oldham will absolutely stay with you long after the final poem is read. A highly recommended read.

Tiffany Ferrell

In this collection of poems, Nameless: Poems & Prose tells the journey of someone who is trying to find themselves in the world. As queer people, they find self-acceptance and being reborn on their mission to find themselves. From chaos to sadness and feelings that are only human, we step into the writer's shoes and see the world from his eyes.

I found Nameless a great read with so many touching and thought-provoking poems. Anyone reading this book will be able to find at least one poem from this collection to relate to. There’s so much raw emotion and, in its entirety, this tells of Brian Oldham’s journey as he became the person he is today. I also found the collection eye-opening as each poem gives us more insight into the author's mind.
A few that I can relate to and loved were A New Kind Of Spring, Eat Me, Drink Me, Spit Me Out, and Witness. These pieces just spoke to me. The heartbreak felt in A New Kind Of Spring is something I know full well, especially being young and naive, falling for the concept of love and that it will last forever. Eat Me, Drink Me, Spit Me Out - I can’t explain but it spoke to me. The same goes for Witness.

Overall, I thought this was an excellent collection of poems. I found myself so engrossed in them once I started. I couldn’t put this book down. Brian Oldham has created a masterpiece with words and I am looking forward to reading more of his work in the future.