Worlds of You
Worlds of You is a debut collection from Beau Taplin, a Melbourne-based writer in his late 20s, but with 500,000-plus followers of his Instagram poetry account he’s one of the most famous poets in the country.
The introduction offers a sense of Taplin’s character, as well as outlining his purpose.
“In collecting the pieces together for Worlds of You,” he begins, “I have found myself reflecting on my reasons for writing, and the reasons we all gravitate towards art as a way of better understanding and healing our pain.” Many of these reasons are clichés, a bad sign in a poet, if harmless enough.
But it’s interesting that the reflective process is foregrounded at all. According to Taplin, the book collects his “most treasured works dating all the way back to the beginning of my journey”. Growing up, “creative expression was a coping mechanism for me, a way of better understanding the mysteries of myself and the world around me.” Art is both expression and journey, not a targeted product designed to make another person feel something. Taplin is on a processing spree; the pleasure is witnessing.
He gives us both a lot to witness and not much at all. The book is billed as inspiring, and perhaps its vague language aims to reach the most people by being as widely applicable to as many romantic and personal situations as possible.
One prose poems reads in full: “It’s been a long, hard road but I’ve finally found the closure I need to move on. I’ve learned to accept that my all is not always going to be enough and love is neither owed nor earned; it either is or it’s not. I gave you the world but you wanted the stars.”
Who hasn’t given someone the world? Who hasn’t wanted the stars? But we’re meant to follow a poet’s journey, why not offer some greater detail? Without specifics, the reader needs to infer too much from the poem and bring too much of themselves to it – the effect is like overhearing bits of a one-sided phone call.
Or why not arrange the poems to somehow build on the lessons gained – or not gained – to draw some greater wisdom? It costs a lot to give the reader a taste of something deep and real – it’s a shame when a book promises to do so but doesn’t deliver. CR
HarperCollins, 192pp, $24.99
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Dec 9, 2017 as "Beau Taplin, Worlds of You". Subscribe here.