Build Yourself a Boat by Camonghne Felix || Book Review

This is about what grows through the wreckage. This is an anthem of survival and a look at what might come after. A view of what floats and what, ultimately, sustains.

Build Yourself a Boat, an innovative debut by award-winning poet Camonghne Felix, interrogates generational trauma, the possibility of healing, and the messiness of survival.

Build Yourself a Boat redefines the language of collective and individual trauma through lyric and memory.


Build Yourself a Boat paperback cover

Title: Build Yourself a Boat

Author: Camonghne Felix

Published on April 2nd 2019 by Haymarket Books

Format: Paperback, 96 pages

Genre / Themes: ContemporaryMental Health | Poetry


With a stunning exterior and a powerful interior, Felix’s Build Yourself a Boat is an exquisite poetry collection to place upon your ever growing bookshelf and TBR.

Felix’s poems discuss race, trauma, mental health and the process of healing. She doesn’t shy away from the hate the world can give, especially regarding racism and mental health judgement’s placed upon younger generations. Intertwining both personal and global events, Felix provides readers with this POWERFUL and INTENSELY MOVING collection. Her poems on the Zimmerman trial and teenage struggles are some of the most powerful poems I’ve ever read. I could PHYSICALLY FEEL her anger and frustrating, making my emotions unfold.

Rather than feeling like an intimidating force with such intense topics, the collection feels like this beautiful and raw story that Felix guides readers through, highlighting key experiences in her life. She walks readers through her journey, showing the darkness but also the ability to heal and grow.

So, why three stars? I couldn’t connect with some poetic styles and the ambiguity; there are a few poems that went over my head, still causing me confusion with what the messages behind them are. But this doesn’t mean I disliked any of the poems. And for some people, this is a plus. I think many people will actually enjoy this element, loving the deep and hidden thoughts within Felix’s poems.

The footnotes and the final passage tying in together at the end really blew me away. I loved this side anecdote, one that stretched throughout the entire story and provided this incredibly moving conclusion to the collection. I’m honestly so eager to read more by Felix, hoping to expand my poetry repertoire even more.

I recommend this novel if you enjoy: mental health awareness; focus on race and culture; variety in poetic styles and forms; language oriented books.




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Author of Bookmark Your Thoughts, both the Tumblr and WordPress book review blogs. I'm a tea drinking, book loving librarian who just loves literature.

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