“When you’re dumb enough for long enough, you’re gonna meet someone too smart to love you, and they’re gonna love you anyway, and it’s gonna go so poorly,” Neil Hilborn’s debut collection, Our Numbered Days, is funny and mad at itself for being funny. It’s sad, and it thinks that’s also funny. It’s smart, even when it’s calling itself stupid. It says “Love me”
while insisting that loving it is a bad idea. Our Numbered Days is like playing mini golf on a first date: it will be embarrassing at first, but, it swears, you’re gonna love it.
because goddamn, at least there’s still something to hate.”
If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing slam poetry or have never heard of Neil Hilborn before then I strongly urge you to check out some of his performances, particularly OCD and Joey. It will give you an idea of his voice and the strong emotional impact of his writing.
Our Numbered Days is a brilliant collection because it challenges readers to ask questions about themselves and take a look at their lives. Hilborn tackles some extremly heavy topics such as heartbreak, mental illness, depression, and suicide. Many of the poems are emotionally raw and are based on the author’s real life experiences. The collection contains forty-five poems, including the two previously mentioned, and a few choice quotes from other authors.
Hilborn’s writing is powerful because it creates vivid visuals that really illustrate the central messages in his poems. Several of the poems are also peppered with sharp humor that can be both funny and sobering. I’ve never seen or heard depression talked about as succinctly as in this poetry collection and I’m glad that I read it, even if a few of them made me tear up.
Hilborn’s poetry is definitely an experience and he is easily one of my favorite modern poets, I highly recommend this collection especially for those that have struggled with mental illness.
Strengths: Honest, direct, and full of heart
Weaknesses: A few poems are a little nonsensical and difficult to follow
Warnings: Trigger warning, suicide, depression, death, mental illness