hhp-feast-of-verse-book-club-january-2017Amanda Lovelace is a poetess with a remarkable talent for crafting beautiful poetry. Her poems reflect life – her life, to be exact (“I was born a little bookmad”). Each poem conveys a simplistic beauty that offers a personal insight into a somewhat distressing life journey. She details the fraught relationship with her mother and the abuse endured by her beloved. Her troubles warrant an open mouth, a gasp and, at times, a rapid swelling of the tear duct. But the emotions don’t stop there. By the time you get to the end, you will feel both inspired and empowered to rewrite your own life journey.

From page zero, Lovelace plays with the cliches of a fairytale by mapping her life into chapters: the princess, the damsel and the queen. The dedication functions as a prologue to give it that Romeo and Juliet – kinda – feeling. But you will find no Romeo hidden in these words, instead the spirit of Shakespeare’s Juliet is alive in Lovelace’s inner-strength. These poems are held together by blending the optimism of Cinderella, Belle’s feminist beliefs, and the authoritative nature of the Queen of Hearts.

Using the fairy tale as a platform to speak her truths (“the damsel let the dragons swoop down and steal her away from the ugliness…”), the reader is drawn into the poetess’ world. And to complete that connection, at the end of each poem, asides are used as a tool to deliver her inner monologue; her deepest thoughts.

you may
not have left
(many) bruises
on my skin,
but you left giant
blackberry bruises
all over
my soul

• I still wonder who I would have been.

Her truths, at times, leave you with a heavy sensation, and that’s why this book was the deserved winner of the Goodreads Choice Awards in 2016.

It’s pinball-esque structure has your eyes constantly propelled across the page. Look left and you’ll find a clever use of sibilance that reflects a sibling relationship. Look right to find stark oxymorons that mirror pain and suffering. Look up and you’ll see the playful form of shape poetry which make your eyes go berserk. Look straight ahead and you’ll find a blank page that speaks a thousand words but leaves you speechless. Her memoir is a bowlful of alliteration, ready to be devoured by you.

Being brave enough to commit your innermost thoughts into typescript is like taking your top off on the London Tube – it’s the naked truth. Lovelace expresses constant determination throughout this anthology. In the end, what you get is a collection of imperatives, affirmations and advice written to encourage you to find yourself.

write the story
your hands
into the dirtiest
parts of yourself

grow a beautiful garden
from your aching
& teach yourself
how to thrive from it.

write your story.

Maya Angelou once wrote “you can shoot me with your words / you can cut me with your eyes / but still like air / I rise.” Lovelace’s collection of autobiographical poems embodies Angelou’s famous verse. You’ll find no damsel in distress in this newly published anthology, The Princess Saves Herself in this One, instead, (queue one of Beyonce’s female empowering tracks) offers raw, honest, feel-it-in-your-core poetry that is guaranteed to resonate with your past, present and perhaps your future.

Best for: Readers who sometimes like to wear a feminist hat.
Buy for: The person who has survived an abusive relationship.
Buy it if: You enjoy simple, heart-felt, creative poetry.

yaz-originalReviewed by Yaz Dellicompagni ǀ @feastofverse
Based in Bimingham, England, Yaz is an infectious English teacher. Her mission: expose students to the poetic word. She marks poetry for an examination board and holds a masters qualification in teaching and learning. Yaz also facilitates our Feast of Verse Poetry Book Club.  Find out more here.

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