Bone Collection By Yrsa Daley Ward Free is one of the most acclaimed poetry collections of the 21st century. It was first self-published by Ward in 2014, but then was re-published in 2017 by Penguin Books. The collection quickly garnered critical acclaim, becoming a bestseller and building a cult following across social media. In this article, we explore the significance of this remarkable collection, looking at its impact on contemporary poetry, the themes it delves into and the unique stylistic elements that make Bone so special.
The first thing that stands out about Bone is the raw language Yrsa Daley Ward employs. Her poetry, often conversational and unpolished, strikes readers in the most tender places. Often times, described as confessional, the poems explore themes of personal and emotional vulnerability, and where many poets would shy away from delving into such emotions, Yrsa’s work leans in. The unfiltered nature and seeming spontaneity of the poems makes them feel immediate and, in line with other millennial and Gen Z artists, truly authentic.
The collection touches on many different themes, but one of the most pressing is the question of identity. Yrsa writes movingly about her mixed heritage, exploring the complexity of belonging to multiple cultures and not quite fitting into any of them. Her work speaks to the experience of so many in the contemporary world, who struggle to define and understand their own identities. Yrsa explores the duality of being both an insider and outsider, the tension between one’s own cultural background and fitting into the mainstream culture.
Sexuality and relationships are other prominent themes in Bone. The collection does not shy away from the realities of love and intimacy, and Yrsa introduces a frankness into her writing that is refreshing for its honesty. Rather than setting up an idealised vision of what relationships should be, she is not afraid to explore the pain, the messiness, and the beauty of them in all their complexities.
Another thing that stands out is Yrsa's writing style. The poets use of lyricism combined with a conversational style makes her work feel incredibly intimate. Her poems are not afraid to speak directly to the reader, allowing them to become invested in the work and the speaker, often for the first time. The line breaks and structure that Ward employs add to the organic and unpredictable nature of the poems, allowing them to build and take shape in unexpected ways.
Bone Collection By Yrsa Daley Ward Free also has a unique relationship with contemporary social media, a connection that has greatly impacted the reader reception of the collection. The poet’s readings and signings spread virally across social media, bringing her work to a whole new audience and reframing what “poetry” could be. This has contributed greatly to the increased visibility and appreciation of contemporary poetry, especially for younger readers who may have little experience with the genre.
The collection also speaks to contemporary issues of race and ethnicity in a way that feels both fresh and urgent. The collection offers a unique perspective on what it means to be mixed-race, and the duality of being caught between different cultures. Yrsa’s writing speaks to these experiences with a clear-eyed honesty that feels necessary to a world that often does not know how to approach such complex topics.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the collection is the fact that it is being offered for free. This has undoubtedly affected the collection's reception and readership, opening it up to a much broader audience. The unavailability of poetry to people who might be able to benefit the most from it, the collection’s popularity, the rawness of emotional content, and the direct language used to address race, sex, relationships, and identity has made Bone resonant with many readers.
In conclusion, Bone Collection By Yrsa Daley Ward Free is a significant and impactful collection of poetry. The collection’s unique blend of raw language, vulnerability, and the unfiltered nature of the poems touches on themes that feel immediately relatable to readers. The collection’s frank exploration of sexuality, relationships, identity, and race make it an important addition to contemporary poetry, and its connection to social media and being offered for free has opened up and expanded the genre to new and diverse readership. Yrsa Daley Ward’s Bone Collection is a call to action, inviting readers to engage openly with the themes explored, to lean in to the difficult and uncomfortable emotions, and to participate in the collective exploration towards healing and understanding.