Author: Amanda Lovelace
Series: Women Are Some Kind of Magic #2
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
First Published: March 6, 2018
The witch: supernaturally powerful, inscrutably independent, and now—indestructible. These moving, relatable poems encourage resilience and embolden women to take control of their own stories. Enemies try to judge, oppress, and marginalize her, but the witch doesn’t burn in this one.
I knew I was in for a mixed bag with this one, having seen very divided opinions on Lovelace’s first collection, The Princess Saves Herself in this One. Reviews of her work seem to be extremely hit or miss, with some hailing the poetry for being relatable and moving, while others condemn it as not real poetry. I decided to give Lovelace’s work a try to see what all the fuss was about, deciding to be open-minded about the format and seeing if the content of the poems would convince me. I can’t say I’m surprised with how I ended up feeling about the work, but I was still pretty disappointed.
g o l d
d i r t
There were a fair number of poems that I liked for the strong feminist messages they contained but it was few and far between. There was also a common theme linking the poems, and while I could appreciate the attempt at being cohesive it felt like the author was trying too hard, which quickly became repetitive and tiring. Then there are ones that aren’t empowering but just detail over and over again how men treat women badly and sure, yeah, there are a lot of awful people out there. It started to feel like the bad was repeated constantly for dramatic effect, making some of the poems really impersonal and like it didn’t have much meaning at times.
As for the writing style, I felt that most of the content wasn’t so much poetry as much as simple and short sentences that are unnecessarily spaced out. To me, poetry is a literary art form that uses rhyming or aesthetics to convey a story or meaning. Maybe I’m a bit old-fashioned, but I didn’t get either from this collection. Placing each word on a different line in all lower case doesn’t do anything for the poem aesthetically, it just looks like a mess and is a waste of paper. I tried really hard to just accept the format, but I really didn’t like it. I’ve heard the argument that it falls under the category of minimalist poetry but it didn’t fit that style to me either.
I was also surprised, and I don’t say this lightly because I don’t feel that I’m the type of person that is easily offended, that there were poems that I found to be extremely problematic. There was one poem that talked about a victim of childhood abuse later greeting an abusive relationship with a smile, as a victim of both I found the poem unsettling. Near the end, there are several poems that encourage misandry, which is sexist and wrong and goes against what feminism stands for. For poems that are meant to be empowering and full of truth, I found several of them to be misguided at best and outright offensive at worst.
It’s unfortunate, but this poetry collection just wasn’t for me and that’s just my preference. This doesn’t diminish the impact it might have on other readers that enjoy it and find some truth that speaks to them. Personally, I feel like this wasn’t the best example of feminist poetry and there are far better collections out there.
Trigger Warning: Misandry, Offensive Discussion of Abuse