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No Matter the Wreckage: Poems

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Poetry (2014)
Following the success of her breakout poem, "B," Sarah Kay releases her debut collection of poetry featuring work from the first decade of her career. No Matter the Wreckage presents readers with new and beloved work that showcases Kay's knack for celebrating family, love, travel, history, and unlikely love affairs between inanimate objects ("Toothbrush to the Bicycle Tire"), among other curious topics.

Both fresh and wise, Kay's poetry allows readers to join in on her journey of discovering herself and the world around her. It's an honest and powerful collection.

143 pages, Paperback

First published March 18, 2014

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About the author

Sarah Kay

70 books2,390 followers
Sarah Kay is an American poet. Known for her spoken word poetry, Kay is the founder and co-director of Project V.O.I.C.E., a group dedicated to using spoken word as an inspirational tool.

Sarah Kay, a graduate of Brown University, was born in New York to a Japanese American mother and a Jewish American father. She began performing poetry at the Bowery Poetry Club in the East Village at the age of 14, joining their Slam Team in 2006.[5] That year, she was the youngest person competing in the National Poetry Slam in Austin, Texas. In 2007 Kay made her television debut, performing the poem "Hands" on HBO's Def Poetry Jam.[6] She has performed at events and venues like the Lincoln Center, the Tribeca Film Festival, and at the United Nations where she was a featured performer for the launch of the 2004 World Youth Report.[7][8]
In May 2010, she performed at *spark!, a benefit for the Acumen Fund in New York, New York.[9]
On March 3, 2011, she performed at the TED conference in Long Beach, California as part of a series entitled "Beauty, Imagination, Enchantment." Along with a talk about her upbringing, she performed the poems "B" and "Hiroshima".[10]
Kay recently performed at The Nantucket Project, a festival of ideas in Nantucket, Massachusetts.[11]

Although Kay works primarily in spoken word poetry, she has had written poems published in magazines such as Foundling Review, DamselFly Press, and decomP literary magazine.[12][13][14]
In 2011, Kay published "B", a short hardcover book containing the titular poem, which was originally written in 2007. The book features illustrations by Sophia Janowitz.[15]

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5 stars
6,963 (49%)
4 stars
4,230 (29%)
3 stars
2,110 (14%)
2 stars
570 (4%)
1 star
249 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,339 reviews
Profile Image for Celina.
19 reviews16 followers
April 14, 2017

I have been following Sarah Kay since my first year in college (2012) when I first watched her in Ted. Immediately, I was captivated and inevitably fell in love with spoken word. When she first announced that she will be publishing a book, I was more than excited. I had pre-ordered three copies immediately (for me and my two soul mates). When it finally reached my hands, it was all I could ask for and more.

Reading the book was a confirmation of how much I am obsessed with her work. I knew (and some memorized) a good 50% of the poems in her book but what I was excited for the most are the ones I didn't know.

This book is drop dead beautiful. I've always placed Sarah Kay upon a pedestal. I can't help it; she's such an inspiration. However, reading this book made her seem like a friend, just another human being going through this funny thing we call life. There are some poems that I felt too intimate for me to be reading, like I was invading her privacy, but that's how Sarah Kay is. She is eloquently honest and brave.

Take a moment to grab this book and peruse through it. Trust me, you won't regret it.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
909 reviews13.8k followers
November 7, 2017

I have been reading so much mindless poetry lately. Poetry written on napkins and scribbed in diaries, just syntax-less ramblings. THIS is poetry with substance, with carefully thought-out writing, with power and emotion.

most of this is about love, but it's unlike anything you've read before. there's not a single cliché.

my favorite poem by far was "The Type." I read it once and was so impressed that I read it again out loud to myself. The quality of all of these poems was so great that I highlighted at least one line from each. Magnificent.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,424 reviews8,318 followers
August 2, 2015
Wish I could whisper "it's not you, it's me" to this book. Even though Sarah Kay has established quite the fan base on Goodreads and on the web, I just could not connect with these poems on a deeper level - perhaps because poetry has never been my genre of choice. I appreciate that she writes about a variety of topics ranging from romance to family to personal insecurities. I like how not all of her pieces stem from anger, or lust, or anguish; the emotional variety of this collection strengthens it. The book also has a great, understated aesthetic to its cover and feel.

Perhaps Kay's pieces do not always translate well from spoken word to print. She performs with confidence and charisma, which adds that extra bit of voice I found lacking in No Matter the Wreckage. Still, I would recommend this set to fans of poetry, as well as to those searching for a fresh, new perspective.
Profile Image for Eunice (nerdytalksbookblog).
403 reviews132 followers
February 8, 2015
It will now be my life mission to read all poems Sarah Kay has written. She is a genius times infinity. I have memorized Postcards that's how much I loved it. And remind me please to ask her to buy me new set of tabs because I seriously have used up all my tabs on this book. I loved how her poems touched not only love, but awareness, longing, giving importance to other people, putting someone else's happiness before her own and how she made each poem entirely different from another. I highly think the connection between us is palpable, her words connect to me with too much precision. It is as if she is narrating my own story. To say I love Sarah Kay will be the biggest understatement! I highly recommend this one, even if you are not fan of poetry, you will surely love this one in a heartbeat!!
Profile Image for Beatrice Masaluñga.
1,136 reviews1,663 followers
April 26, 2018
The word "beautiful" is an understatement to describe this poetry book. Sarah Kay's poems are evocative, relatable and masterly written. They're simple and candor at its best. I was hooked from the start and unsurprisingly finished it in hours. I love it and my favorites are:

1.) B (This one hits home to me and brought me to tears. So relevant to my life right now. )
2.)Postcards (The last line crushed my heart: There is a girl who still writes you. She doesn't know how not to.. 😭💔)
3.) The Ladder (It's about a mom's selfless love.)
4.) Hands (It symbolizes love, unity and compassion for others. And we shouldn't use our hands for violence or war.)
5.) The Type (Women empowerment)

I'm glad I've read this book and I'm sure it won't be my last.
Profile Image for 8th_Promise.
12 reviews34 followers
July 8, 2020
I generally give this collection 3.8 stars. I wanted to understand and read "No Matter the Wreckage" to see poetry in a different perspective.
At first I was really lost, I didn't understand the point. I later recollected the title while reading and understood the big idea in the book. Some of the poems were a bit laborious for me to grasp. That is why I gave it a 3.8 stars.
My favorites were the poems HANDS, SHOSHOLOZA, & B. They were very awesome. In this book Sarah Kay brought me back to my mindfulness with her poems. The stories she painted were really A.M.A.Z.I.NG. I could feel and see everything in some of the poems so vividly and could even relate to some of them personally. I appreciate Sarah's collection because I definitely got to experience poetry in a different perspective.
Profile Image for lori light.
153 reviews40 followers
July 12, 2014
Rip my heart right out of my chest. Sarah Kay. Holy.shit.

I think my favorite of all of the poems in this book is The Type. This line did it for me....

"It is hard to stop loving the ocean.
Even after it has left you gasping. salty."

If i was rich, I'd buy copies of this book and give it to every woman that I know. And every man too. Really, just so, so good. And I don't even like poetry that much.
Profile Image for WhatIReallyRead.
673 reviews489 followers
July 13, 2019
No Matter the Wreckage - Poems by Sarah Kay

No Matter the Wreckage is a collection of contemporary poetry. Some of the poems I really liked. They felt deep, touching, clever, real, conveyed oceans of feeling and resonated with some of my own experiences.

The others I did not quite get, see the point of. They seemed pretty random, unnecessary, pretentious or preachy.

The style is one of the major issues I have with most of contemporary poetry. It seems like these poets sometimes just put a bunch of random stuff together, punctuate it with spaces and almost dare, challenge you to finally yell "What is this?! This is not poetry!!!", so that they can smugly lecture you about the nature of art and who decides if it's art or not. But I personally believe that poetry has to differ from prose in some tangible way. It doesn't have to rhyme necessarily, but it has to have a certain flow, a special way with the words - metaphoric or clever or vivid, but it has to surprise you or pierce your heart.

So to me this:

When they bombed Hiroshima, the explosion formed a mini
supernova, so every living animal, human, or plant that received
direct contact with the rays from that sun was instantly turned to ash.

What was left of the city soon followed.
The long-lasting damage of nuclear radiation
caused an entire city and its population to turn into powder.

is not poetry. I don't know what it is, but not poetry. Just an ordinary sentence with spaces, perhaps.

The book is divided into "chapters" by pretty illustrated in-between pages like this one:

Inside No Matter the Wreckage - Poems by Sarah Kay

It's a nice little book. It also made me look up Sarah Kay on YouTube. She's pretty cool in person.
Profile Image for Zaira.
166 reviews3 followers
May 20, 2018
3.5 stars actually
The problem is that all these poems are meant to be performed. It simply doesn't suit the written medium but I love Sarah Kay.
Profile Image for Paul.
2,306 reviews20 followers
August 9, 2020
I loved this collection from a fresh, young voice. It moved me to tears at times and I found myself completely wrapped up in the poet’s world. Kay’s work actually reminds me of my wife’s poetry in some ways.

Love Poem #137

I will wake you up early
even though I know you like to stay through the credits.

I will leave pennies in your pockets,
postage stamps of superheroes
in between the pages of your books,
sugar packets on your kitchen counter.
I will Hansel and Gretel you home.

I talk through movies.
Even ones I have never seen before.

I will love you with too many commas,
but never any asterisks.

There will be more sweat than you are used to.
More skin.
More words than are necessary.

My hair in the shower drain,
my smell on your sweaters,
bobby pins all over the windowsills.

I make the best sandwiches you’ve ever tasted.
You’ll be in charge of napkins.

I can’t do a pull-up.
But I’m great at excuses.

I count broken umbrellas after every thunderstorm,
and I fall asleep repeating the words
thank you.

I will wake you up early
with my heavy heartbeat.
You will say,
Can’t we just sleep in, and I will say,
No, trust me. You don’t want to miss a thing.
Profile Image for Meags.
2,086 reviews361 followers
December 28, 2017
5 Stars

Sarah Kay's first collection of poems is an instant favourite of mine.

A dear friend brought Sarah Kay to my attention a few months ago in an attempt to explain to me the wonders of spoken-word poetry. She sent me a TED talks video called If I should have a daughter... and within less than 20 minutes I was completely captivated, awed and inspired, and Sarah Kay had herself a new lifelong fan.

After spending days watching as many YouTube videos as I could find, getting my hands on this written collection of poems was the next step in the evolution of my obsession.

Here, Sarah shares a selection of some of her most insightful, honest and heartfelt poems. Some of my favourites include:

★ B (the opening poem from Sarah's TED Talks video - link above)
★ Forest Fires
The Type
★ Hiroshima (the closing poem from Sarah's TED Talks video - link above)

This collection was an absolute joy to read.
Profile Image for fatma.
887 reviews527 followers
May 24, 2017
4.5 stars

UGH SARAH IS SO TALENTED. I loved this so much.

Here are some of the poems from this collection performed by Sarah: (I highly recommend watching them!!! Sarah is so good at what she does)
The Type
Private Parts
Ghost Ship (this one is phenomenal. it almost made me cry)
Mrs. Ribeiro

I think the best word to describe this collection is EARNEST; Sarah has truly poured her heart and soul into these poems.

I have so many favourite poems (I loved like 90% of this collection), but the ones that really wowed me were B, The Type, Brother, Jellyfish, Shosholoza, and Ghost Ship.

One last point: if you can listen to this instead of reading it, please do. These poems were meant to be performed.
Profile Image for Atri .
179 reviews115 followers
July 30, 2020
I don't think I actually remember this day.
I don't think the scene in my hand is real -
it nust instead be the retelling of the story
that I have memorized and rehearsed -
that my mind has filled in the gaps.


Leaving is an easy art to learn.
But the advanced steps -
the pirouettes and arabesques
are difficult to master.

This is how I disappear in pieces.

This is how I leave while not moving from my seat.

This is how I dance away.

This is how I'm gone before you wake.


You can only fit so many words in a postcard.

Only so many in a phone call.

Only so many into space, before you forget that
words are sometimes used for things other than
filling emptiness.
Profile Image for Mohamed Ghazi.
Author 16 books91 followers
May 17, 2016
I am not the type of reader who usually gives 1 star to books, but this book is really bad. To be honest, I don't know Sarah Kay and this book was recommended by Amazon based on my poetry books purchases. Also, I really liked the cover.
The thing I don't understand about this book that it is not poetry, it is more of a diary. So many irrelevant personal stories were shared by the author in this book that made it impossible for me to relate while reading. The only thing I felt is being bored.
I did enjoy one or two poems though. The rest was a complete bleh.
Profile Image for Brierly.
154 reviews104 followers
August 20, 2019
Sarah Kay is primarily a spoken word poet, so the writing style embraces the sound and rhythm of her poetry, not simply the structural aspects. If you are searching for exposure to contemporary poetry, I would point you in the direction of No Matter the Wreckage. Most of the poems take under 5 minutes to read.


When we moved in together,
I noticed--

You keep your scissors in the knife drawer.
I keep mine with the string and tape.

We both know how to hide our sharpest parts,
I just don’t always recognize my own weaponry.
Profile Image for Айше.
102 reviews39 followers
November 7, 2016

"Oh, Brother. No matter your wreckage. There will be someone to find you beautiful, despite the cruddy metal. Your ruin is not to be hidden behind paint and canvas. Let them see the cracks. Someone will come to sing into these empty spaces."

"My self-confidence can be measured out in teaspoons, mixed into my poetry, and it still always tastes funny in my mouth."

"I’ll always keep an extra supply of chocolate and rain boots nearby, because there is no heartbreak that chocolate can’t fix.
Okay, there’s a few heartbreaks that chocolate can’t fix. But that’s what the rain boots are for. Because rain will wash away everything, if you let it."

"Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s swept away."

"You are a woman. Skin and bones. Veins and nerves. Hair and sweat. You are not made of metaphors. Not apologies. Not excuses."

"When I read about love, I think I should be out loving. When I love, I think I need to read more."
Profile Image for Ana Luisa.
104 reviews121 followers
February 28, 2016
I'm sad to say I didn't really enjoy this poetry collection, specially since everyone who's read this seems to love it. Poetry is a very subjective thing, and for me to appreciate it I have to connect with what it's saying. That unfortunately did not happen with this collection.

I felt very detached from the author and the themes while reading the poems, and I felt that the free-form didn't help convey the message she was trying to get accross. I also feel that the stories she was telling were very repetitive and didn't grab my attetion enough for me to want to continue reading, which was a shame.

I'm not sure if I'll pick up more from this author if this is her usual style, and don't reccommend this if you want to read something more lyrical, as I did.
Profile Image for molaffle.
87 reviews22 followers
February 23, 2018
Hopping on the poetry bandwagon for 2018 is intimidating considering my exposure to the hype as I have been resisting it for quite a while now. The poetry books I have read so far are either lackluster or bland in terms of writing, but this book completely changed my viewpoint on poetry. If you are planning to read more poetry this reading year, I can tell you one thing for sure, Sarah Kay will not disappoint.

“You can only fit so many words into a postcard.
Only so many in a phone call. Only so many into space, before you forget that words are sometimes used for things other than filling emptiness.”

Sarah Kay’s writing is eloquent and exhilarating. One aspect that really took my breath away was Kay’s ability to render ideas of her own into intricate details with the significance still intact. In this collection of poetry, her words were articulate, well chosen and compendious.

No Matter The Wreckage is a collection of poetry with the themes of love as well as random things out of the blue, including travel, cities and our surroundings.
Topics found in this book is endlessly wide, ranging from a day in New York on 2009 to a toothbrush, however, Kay still manages to write fluently that will blow your mind away. I never knew that the human mind was capable of feeling emotional towards a toothbrush. Sarah Kay is definitely an astonishing poet and because she is under-appreciated in the book world, I feel that more should look into giving this book a read. It will stick to your feelings and invigorate your inner cries a little bit (or more than a little bit), but most importantly it is an additional stunning perspective to view the world in.
Profile Image for Demo.
61 reviews33 followers
July 14, 2016
"We both know how to hide our sharpest parts, I just don’t always recognize my own weaponry."

"Oh, Brother. No matter your wreckage. There will be someone to find you beautiful, despite the cruddy metal. Your ruin is not to be hidden behind paint and canvas. Let them see the cracks. Someone will come to sing into these empty spaces."

So beautifully written. So lovely. Left you thinking.

"Do not spend time wondering if you are the type of woman men will hurt. If he leaves you with a car-alarm heart, you may learn to sing along.

It is hard to stop loving the ocean. Even after it has left you gasping, salty.

Forgive yourself for the decisions you have made, the ones you still call mistakes when you tuck them in at night"
Profile Image for Sarah.
184 reviews399 followers
March 18, 2016
'No Matter the Wreckage' is the kind of book that keeps getting better and better as you read through. The kind that you find yourself getting back to read again.
Sarah Kay is really one of a kind! The way she uses the simplest things to describe the things we long for is amazing.
This was my first book I read for Sarah Kay and she already won me as a fan.
I Definitely recommend you reading it. It's awesome!
Profile Image for Anoud Q.
108 reviews32 followers
August 4, 2017
What a dreadful read. Her writing style was simply not my cup of tea, I liked a poem or two, but it didn't has a wow factor or anything and I loathed reading it out loud or even silently *Shocked* because I usually enjoy reading poetry books out loud. I barely enjoyed it if not at all.

I couldn't fathom or relate to most of her poems which made it harder for me to like this collection of poems.
Profile Image for Jenny's  .
173 reviews47 followers
July 5, 2014
Sarah Kay is an enormously talented young poet. Watching her express herself through poetry on youtube is even more satisfiying. She is one to keep an eye on in the future,as well as now. As she matures in her craft and develops it will be exiting to see just how far she flies!
Profile Image for Jessica.
604 reviews22 followers
May 12, 2019
I honestly had no idea who I was reading till I got to the poem “B”.
So, it stayed at a relatively low rating for quite a while.
Once I read the poem I instantly recognized who it was, as I realized I watched/listened to the poem at a poetry slam, on TedTalk.
I have to say I loved the performance and it makes me incredibly sad to rate it on the lower end of the spectrum. Her poems are definitely meant to be heard/seen as she is able to convey the raw emotion and pain very well. By time I realized, who she was though I was already well into the Ebook (and with the thanks of Matt) I may have never found the book because I searched for months.
So, I’m pretty disappointed that I have missed an opportunity to listen to her poetry.

464 reviews
April 19, 2014
Sarah Kay: AMAZING.

I have waited what seems like FOREVER to see her work in print. Many of my favorite spoken word poems are in here, and there are so many new ones that I'm in love with now. "Mrs. Ribeiro" is my current favorite, and "Scissors" and "Boom" and "Grace" and… OK, I can't pick just one.

If you haven't seen her TED talk, go watch it.

If you haven't found her videos on YouTube, go find them.

Then, read this book. Give it to your friends. Read it again.

I think I'm going to have to buy a second copy of this book for my classroom; I'm not sure I can part with this one.
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