Cole Schafer’s pen name January Black is Id Rampage. In her second collection of poetry, Black explores themes of love and loss in the digital age.
“Isn’t that the strangeness of love? you find yourself beating jelly in your knees on the most ordinary of movements- “
As anyone who has experienced grief is likely to tell you, it rarely follows a linear narrative. We are not given the simplicity and structure of ascending action, climax and descending action when it comes to the mess of our own lives.
In his second collection of poetry entitled After Her, January Black attracts us with the promise of structure. The book is divided into three acts: “before her”, “her”, and inevitably, “after her”.
It begins with a boisterous introduction with the poem “Who the fuck is January Black?” Our narrator turns out to be an alter ego, a fictionalized version of the author who is reminiscent of those we broadcast on social networks.
This is the central tension of After Her. Yes, the growing gap between lovers, but also the growing gap between different versions of ourselves. And just like our fractured narrator, After Her tells us it’s one thing and shows us another.
The useful timeline of before, during and after is only superficial. A breakout book for the ages, After Her works less like a story and more like a hurricane.
“part of me is trying to figure out who Cole is when January is not in the room”
January Black’s writing reflects the displaced nature of reintegrating into the world after a breakup. Some poems frantically look around, looking for an escape route, others have bright eyes, remembering the past.
In a fifteen-page poem titled “Let’s Set the Stage,” January Black tells the whole story of her relationship’s rise and fall. It’s factual, simple, told from a safe distance.
Yet in the next poem, “docs,” he even struggles to discuss his lover’s shoes, choking out a single word in each line like in excruciating pain.
Like the narrator himself, After Her comes to terms with a new reality. Some poems are powerful and ready to move on, only to be followed by a desperate, futile and painful poem.
“You find that you can look at yourself in the mirror again. you don’t have it back, but you have the next best thing: yourself. “
In the end, the narrator decides to take some time on Instagram. At this point, however, it’s unclear whether this is January Black or Cole Schafer. It is not known if differentiation matters more.
At the end, he just tells his lover that he needs to stop writing about her.
After Her doesn’t preach healing, it doesn’t show us a groomed, victorious narrator having fully recovered from the mess of it all. On the contrary, he lowers his head, shrugs his shoulders and tells us that he has done his best.
Lucky for us, its best is a powerful, beautiful, and heartbreaking read.
You can order a special edition of After Her by click here. Copies of the original version of After Her, as well as One Minute, Please can be found at all major retailers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.
Version number: 89059145
COMTEX_400227616 / 2773 / 2022-01-08T18: 00: 17