Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The Princess Saves Herself In This One, Amanda Lovelace

the story of a princess turned damsel turned queen
* * 

I picked this up because I'd been hearing a lot of chatter about it. This won the Goodreads award for poetry and, as some who occasionally reads volumes of poetry, I was interested. I have given this collection a rating of 2/5 because whilst the poems were evocative, they simply did not work for me. Through no fault of the author, as this is clearly a highly personal collection and appears to me to perhaps be part of a cathartic process for her, I found many of the poems to not be particularly relatable. 

The Princess Saves Herself In This One is a highly personal collection of poems divided into four parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, and you. It incorporates themes of family, love, grief, anger, growing up, and healing. It is a highly emotional and impacting read, and I am certain that many of these poems will resonate with a great many people. 

It is unfortunate then that my first emotional response to this collection was annoyance. The style of poetry has a great deal of line breaks, which I initially found frustrating to read. I am not an expert poetry critic, nor am I going to say that I don't think her style is "real poetry" (because I absolutely do not think that), but I didn't enjoy it. Most of these poems are essentially long train-of-thought sentences with every other word on a new line. For example:

did not
teach me
to love

It certainly reminds me of the kind of poetry I myself wrote when I was much younger (though mine was far worse in terms of content!), and my teenage self would definitely have connected with the angst and emotion of the style. As I am no longer fifteen, I found it more irritating than insightful. 

However, I did quickly become accustomed to the formatting and once I moved past this I found myself enjoying and connecting more with the poetry. Emotionally, I found that my younger self had much to relate to in the first section, the princess, which explores the author's experience of being a young girl lost in problems of identity. Again, I would have found this collection immensely helpful and encouraging when I was younger. The second section, the damsel, jumped between poems about first loves, her mother, death and loss. There was a lot of raw pain and anger here, which was an interesting insight into the author. My favourite poem was found here:

 you will think 
your parents are
                                  s h a t t e r p r o o f
until one day
you find out
                                 t h e y   a r e n ' t
The queen was about recovery, about becoming more than your past. The final section, You, I didn't really understand to be perfectly frank. The poems were eclectic and varying in theme.

Poetry is uniquely subjective. And unfortunately this collection did not work for me. I read it in under 40 minutes. I felt no desire to savour it; possibly because the poems were so short, possibly because they were so deeply personal to the poet that I felt uncomfortable. I gave this collection two stars because it is not bad poetry, in fact in some places it is rather good: it was emotional, there are clear emerging themes, strong recurring images. I liked and appreciated the overall fairytale narrative arc of the princess emerging from her past to become a queen, growing strong and healing. But I disliked the form, the use of cliches, and generally did not relate much to the themes. Whilst the poetry was not to my flavour, I would recommend it to a teenage reader due to the themes, or just someone who really loves free verse poetry.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this collection from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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