Review: What Day Is It? Who Gives A F*ck.

What Day Is It? Photo of Book Cover

Geneva Pattison

God, we’re all tired aren’t we?? It’s not that kind of tired one feels after a long day in the office, or running errands or caring for children, or let’s be honest, even all three. It’s the type of tired that lives in your bones like grief, ages you and makes you feel trapped like there’s no end. It’s hard to shake off due to, and thanks to, this difficult time of pandemic and major world shifts. What can we do to relieve some of the internal stress? Write it all down and let it all out, just as Jan Brierton has done.

“What Day is it? Who Gives a F*ck” is Jan Brierton’s first poetry collection, published this year by New Island Books. This pocket sized ‘real talk’ book opens with, “Everybody is a Poem”, a reminder of how important it is to let your creativity flow and embrace your inner artist and ends with a “Kitchen Disco”. Sounds fun right? Well it’s not all positivity, fun and deep reflections on life, because real life just isn’t like that and that’s the truth of this book.

Jan moves into “Rage”, a section focused on the stresses, painful repetition of park walks for the 500th time and the abuse of women that emerged on the news, in the shape of court cases, murders and rapes during the pandemic. She writes in the truthfully blunt “Poxy Park”,”Poxy park, poxy walks, let’s just be silent. I don’t want to talk.” I think we have all been there after the two years we’ve had so far. To see it written down so plainly, is affirming that after a while even the most grateful nature lover was really struggling with our lack of freedom during all the lockdowns. In the more serious poem, “Borrow Strength”, Jan tackles the damning undercurrent of male ‘locker room talk’ and inaction in relation to abuse against females. She writes, “F*ck your boys’ club descriptions, shut your big mouth. Your words they mean nothing, the truth has won out. Instead, ask yourself, would you say all of these things, If your girl was sat in that court circus ring?” The ending of the poem is a call to all women and allies, to stand by survivors and let them know, “we have strength you can borrow.” The section on the subject Rage is admittedly short, but the simplicity of the rhyme and straight to the point language used, makes a loud, clear and lingering statement.

In the section called “Learning”, Brierton addresses the struggles of homeschooling during a pandemic lockdown. A piece called “Midterm Breakdown”, possibly a nod to Seamus Heaney’s famous “Mid-term Break”, we see how ignoring the rigmarole of day to day jobs that drive us mad, go out the window for some much needed R&R. “Don’t make the bed, leave it messed. Don’t clean your teeth, or bother to get dressed.” Being ‘all go’ 24/7, playing the role of teacher, parent, employee and everything in between, is unbelievably taxing on a person long-term. These breaks obviously give us the chance to de-compress, relax, catch up on things that bring us joy and make us feel human again, but this time can also allow us to ACTUALLY feel and acknowledge how overwhelmed one can become. We see this in the final lines, “Have a good cry when no one’s around. Go on, it’s midterm breakdown.” Nobody is perfect and sometimes crying it out can be a cathartic release, and that kind of honesty is refreshing.

“Love” is the part of the book that deals with romantic love, familial love, self love and all the complex emotions that go with it. This is expressed in a very heartfelt way in the poem, “You Got Your Funny Back”. The poem deals with a partner coming out of the other side of going through a rough time, or depressive period. “There’s a lightness about you, before now, it was missing. There’s mischief and charm, and even some kissing.” This brilliantly human poem, is a note for anyone or any partner of someone going through a low period, that it will pass, as most things do. The poem is also a reminder, that those moments of distance and disconnect can feel like you’re wading through a swamp trying to make a meaningful connection with a partner. All almost seems lost, but to give up means that you’ll never reach the other side, this poem tells us to keep going.

Jan Brierton has certainly created a unique collection of works in this book, all stemming from a poem she released online that went viral. The raw internal dialogue of a woman feeling unheard is often the most powerful and truthful facts of all. It’s funny and irreverent takes on housework, homeschooling, and the sheer honesty from Jan regarding relationship difficulties and stifling nature of life in a pandemic, get to the heart of the matter with no hold’s barred.

What Day Is It? Who Gives a F*ck, is published by New Island Books and is available from all good bookstores now.

https://www.newisland.ie/poetry-drama/what-day-is-it