Literature Reviews

Poetry Review: The Anatomy of Being

The anatomy of beingby shinji moon1

Rating: ★★★★★

Title: The Anatomy of Being

Author: Shinji Moon

Genre: Poetry

Publication Date: Apr. 2013


Where to buy: The Anatomy of Being

Summary: “Broken up into four chapters, she holds your hand and takes you inward with her, from skin to flesh, to flesh to bones, from bones to all that lies within. Both heartbreaking and hopeful, The Anatomy of Being marks a very distinct time in a young girl’s life, and aches and aches to be heard and devoured.” (Source: Goodreads)


Every poem I read had something for me, even the chapter prologues. Shinji Moon’s theme of what it means to be and feel is transcendent; this is a collection that I will personally return to for nourishment and inspiration throughout my life. This is now one of my all-time favourite poetry collections.

With regards to form, Moon goes between lyric and prose. The whole collection is evidently a reflection on Moon’s personal experiences, or perhaps Moon has managed to convince me of these raw emotions that tumble out of each poem as authentic experiences.

One of the most significant features of Moon’s AMAZING poetry book is the continuity from each poem to the next; certain themes continue and evolve. It was such a rewarding read as certain lines were repeated or altered. Another extraordinary feature of the collection was Moon’s erratic shifts in each poem, for example, for the first section of her poem, The Grenade:

Kill me by giving me a grenade

and telling me it’s your heart.


I don’t want to know what your favourite colour is

but I do want to know what colour you bleed

when you’re with me.


I had a dream that I painted my body blue

and melted into the ocean

that you swam through.


I woke up crying,

tasted salt; and thought

this is what it must feel like

to be the sea.

(The Grenade, part I, p.17)

This poem is explosive, as the title implies, as it concerns a heartbreak. The poem shifts from risking yourself to be with someone, to wanting to know their thoughts and feelings, to dreaming of doubt and abandonment, and waking up to the reality of a broken relationship. The shifts grab your attention and make you feel these intense, yet indescribable emotions. How do you begin to describe the emotions conveyed in the second stanza? I mean, that stanza in itself is so metaphorical, my brain aches.

I could go on forever about how I feel about Moon’s collection, alas, life is too short, although I am pretty sure I am immortal after reading The Anatomy of Being.

Why did I read it?

The collection was recommended on a list of poetry books on Tumblr, so I added it to my TBR list on Goodreads, then subsequently, purchased the book due to its intriguing title.

Does the author have other works?

Sadly not. I’m hoping for more!


I am inspired by The Anatomy of Being. I am going to annotate it with my own thoughts and interpretations as it is full of complex metaphors. It is certainly an adventure of the self, as the title states.

– Melissa Jennings

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