Shelved next to copies of Otaku, Candy and Reader's Digest, In Case You Come Back is this medium-sized book of poems with assorted themes which wouldn't even be as noticeable at first glance. Its spine is plain white with a small and barely discernible font, prompting most of us not to give it a second look unless we feel the need to keep browsing the shelf. The only way you could select it among the pile was either by purposely looking for it, or by simply having the strangest luck. My stumbling upon it was admittedly through pure chance, and I may even deem such event as 'serendipitous' because it found me while I was in a delicate cusp of heartbreak and discord where I could certainly use a balm that would appease my troubles.
This poetry collection was a collaborative effort between writers Marla Miniano and Reese Lansangan as well as with the illustrator Jamie Catt. The latter's sketches were pretty and metaphorical enough in execution, providing readers the imagery that often supports the content of the writings themselves. The results of which become a varied palette of some of the most intuitive, well-woven and eloquent compositions that denote sentiments and grievances delivered with more clarity than ever before. There is an unmistakable self-indulgence in how these entries were written and yet the excess ultimately works for their favor.
Miniano's verses can stretch and bend in agonizing intervals, uninhibited by any measure or rhyme. Her stylistic choices are more elaborative than your basic poem structure, often relying on descriptive prose as opposed to the economy of words to deliver her message of all manners of love; from the desperately romantic to the heartbreakingly nostalgic-- all while she would alternate in tone from the the liberated quixotic to the stifled cynic.
I most certainly would argue on her behalf that Miniano's most punishingly detailed and articulate entries were those that invoke not only unforgettable imagery but also strong feelings of the forlorn and lonely which we can readily associate them with. They're the ones that are crowded enough to leave readers breathless. Here are samples of her prose poetry:
These poems wondrously chew the scenery. They also convey an inescapable deluge of details. Such poems might call to mind the most mundane trivialities of every day sufferings mixed then with the tragically extraordinary in order to produce a concoction of emotions. They can define and demystify ambiguities for people who have at one point lost it all before gaining back something else in the end. Such tales were woven together into a singular tapestry next.
Miniano's poems in this collection (as well as Lansangan) have that constant effect all throughout; these writers break down said experiences first into fundamental aches--like a salvage from all the debris in the aftermath of destruction--before arranging them back to make them whole again through pointed if not searing words.
My best advice to enjoy this collection is to consume it slowly; with steady breaks in between each page so one can fully savor and digest each meal served. Not a single poem was ever lifeless, but some do require more patience to get through because Miniano also possesses a tendency to spin her tale far too carelessly that the ink she had metaphorically used spilled rather messily in some pages, leaving dark spots on the edge.
That being said, these flaws--if one would be so inclined to overlook or forgive--can enhance her entries. They can be deemed flawed mechanisms of creative expression for even in their failures the poems still hold a certain allure. In Case You Come Back is somewhat of a titular reassurance to its readers; a self-aware apology that aims to win over the most harshest of critic; and an open invitation to explore its lonely territories once more and experience the tidal waves of grand highs and lows without necessarily forsaking one for the other.