Dear Almost by Matthew Thorburn: Book Review | Poetic Book Tour

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Synopsis from Goodreads: Dear Almost is a book-length poem addressed to an unborn child lost in miscarriage. Beginning with the hope and promise of springtime, poet Matthew Thorburn traces the course of a year with sections set in each of the four seasons. Part book of days, part meditative prayer, part travelogue, the poem details a would-be father’s wanderings through the figurative landscapes of memory and imagination as well as the literal landscapes of the Bronx, Shanghai, suburban New Jersey, and the Japanese island of Miyajima. As the speaker navigates his days, he attempts to show his unborn daughter “what life is like / here where you ought to be / with us, but aren’t.” His experiences recall other deaths and uncover the different ways we remember and forget. Grief forces him to consider a question he never imagined asking: how do you mourn for someone you loved but never truly knew, never met or saw? In candid, meditative verse Dear Almost seeks to resolve this painful question, honoring the memory of a child who both was and wasn’t there.

Publisher: Louisiana State University Press

Date Published: September 1, 2016

Date Read: October 5,2016

No. Of Pages: 88

Source: Copy provided by Poetic Book Tours



Dear Almost is a painful depiction of how fleeting everything is – gone before you had the chance to grasp it into your hands. Matthew Thorburn will take us into the center of their grief and loss over their “almost baby girl”. I for one is not a parent yet, but you need not be one to understand and feel the depth of the emotion this poem conveys. This book attest to human’s attachment to other people, however brief or however long the relationship had been, or however real or just in “concept” it was. It is true what they say, it is more painful to let go of something that was never yours to begin with. It was told in a what-could-have-been concept. How their baby would have looked like had she reached this certain age, or how she would have reacted or what would she have liked had she grown up and experience everything that life has to offer. There was so much beauty in the way Matthew Thorburn portrayed it, it was vivid, making it all the more heartbreaking that it already was.

What went wrong

for no other reason, finally,

than that it didn’t go right.

Ours is the story of how

is became was and was became

wasn’t became no,

became not. The story of our

almost girl, our might’ve been.

It wasn’t just simply mere lamentation of parents, but it was a howl to the wind of something they have no control over – it was as though every grief and loss no matter in what form it came, is universal. You grieve over something that should have stayed a little longer.

So give me a sign if

you’re out there, if you’re

the light swaying, swinging

between trees, that light

growing faint, drifting deeper

into the shadowy woods,

if you’re that pale glow


between the elms and alders.

What star do you steer by?

Where are you going?

Tell me you can hear this

if that’s you who pauses

beside a ragged oak,

head cocked to one side

like a doe, light bouncing back

from your dark eyes,

if that’s you moving under

starlight and moonlight,

waiting for a gauze of cloud

to dim the world


so you can slip away

once more. Tell me, are these

your footprints I find

in the morning in the dark

wet earth, faint traces

in the muck and loam

that slowly fill with water?

Matthew Thorburn offers a profound understanding of what it is like to hold on to a memory and eventually come to terms with the loss. Through the change of the season, or the length of time that passed, it was ultimately something that would inevitably be a part of a person – their sadness and grief fuse with their persona making them a deeper and stronger version of themselves. Dear Almost engages the reader to feel the immense pain of undergoing such unfortunate loss, the regrets and plans made that will never come to fruition. The whole idea of the book appealed to me so much and couldn’t help but pass it on to other people, may they be poetry reader or not. Matthew Thorburn has earned a new fan in me.


Rating: rating_5stars



8 thoughts on “Dear Almost by Matthew Thorburn: Book Review | Poetic Book Tour

  1. Thanks so much for this fantastic review. I cannot imagine this grief, but we’ve all experienced some form of grief — and that is what makes us human and connected. Thanks again for being on the blog tour.

  2. Pingback: Dear Almost by Matthew Thorburn Blog Tour (Fall 2016) |

  3. Pingback: Dear Almost by Matthew Thorburn « Stacy's Books

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