Robert M. Drake and R.H. Sin deliver an uplifting pep talk in their poetry collection “Falling Toward the Moon.” In their respective halves, Drake and Sin shower the reader with affirmation through their messages of self-love and perseverance. Despite their collective thematic effort, the poets manage to maintain their own unmistakable voices in their presentations of encouragement. Given these different styles, one inevitably ends up favoring one section of the collection to the other, and many will prefer Sin’s for the greater degree the complexity he includes.

In the first half of the collection, Drake opts for a direct approach, typically writing brief excerpts in which he relies almost entirely on emotion to captivate and move the intended audience, which implicitly fluctuates between the collection reader and a more specific former or current lover. Some excerpts incorporate greater complexity, whether it be in the form of anecdotes from Drake’s own life or the integration of more involved analogies, like one of a returning soldier in “Fight Wars.” These portions are far and away the most engaging for active readers as they attempt to unpack at which point in Drake’s timeline of distant and recent relationships the segments apply. 

By comparison, the more transparent emotional streams of consciousness come off as somewhat simplistic. The reason for their inclusion is entirely sound, as they are able to explicitly convey the themes needed to give context to Drake’s more thought-provoking poems. They are the crucial mortar to more substantive bricks of Drake’s subtler works. Unfortunately, the majority of a building should not be mortar. While initially emotionally charged, the excess of direct emotional commentaries causes several poems to lose their potency, diluting them to the level of platitudes printed on motivational posters. Granted, it is clear that Drake’s poems come from a place of strongly pinpointed emotion for past and prospective lovers. For readers still pining over what could have been or those who above all else want the best for a current partner, Drake’s direct poems may be better received. When poems are as narrowly tailored to a subject requiring the reader’s experience on the matter, all others can feel alienated since they cannot even cling to the author’s creative depiction. For those yearning for a more ambitious and well-rounded presentation of similar subjects, Sin’s portion is likely to be more gripping.

Similarly to Drake, Sin implements a blend of direct exposition of feelings and comparatively hidden sentiments. Few would be able to mix up one author’s poem for that of the other, though. Sin’s ratio of mortar to brick is more palatable for an involved reader, and, often times, even Sin’s more simplistic works feature an easily understandable metaphor or other means of spicing up his work while maintaining the desired straightforward tone. The complexity of most of Sin’s poems goes a step beyond this base level and forces the reader to more closely inspect each sentence or stanza, but the tactic benefits Sin — especially as it juxtaposes against his co-author’s work. Sin does not come off as pretentious for obscuring or complicating his emotions.

Instead, the approach comes off as endearing. His feelings become more human as he depicts them in a more alien nature. Few are able to accurately understand the exact way they feel, much less the cause of their emotions. Consequently Sin’s sometimes foreign descriptions and extended metaphors add credibility to the feelings of overwhelmedness, love and perseverance that he conveys.

Sin’s “Crowded Minds” discusses overwhelmed feelings towards interactions with a chaotic tone and idiosyncratic descriptions like the interactions being “noisy on the soul.” On the contrary, in “Entire Life,” Drake approaches the same sentiment as Sin but from the perspective of a therapist or motivational speaker, consoling the audience. While heartwarming, the technique fails to create the authenticity of Sin’s poems. Granted, perhaps Sin is so able to take on less straightforward depictions of emotion because Drake transparently introduced these emotions in the first half of the collection. Even still, Sin’s poems are more developed and enjoyable in isolation.

Fans of love poems, especially those in need of a pick-me-up, should not hesitate to let gravity take hold in “Falling Toward the Moon.” Others should not avoid giving it a chance, but should keep in mind that getting through the first half may not be so invigorating — luckily, the direct nature of many of the poems in this half expedite the process.

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