The beautiful thing about poetry is that you can say so much in just a few short, powerful lines. Amanda Lovelace does this effortlessly throughout The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One. Like a beating drum, her poems march across 190 pages, brandishing a feministic call to arms torch.
*puts down soapbox, steps up*
Women have historically been seen as the lesser sex, and have been fighting for equality among men for centuries. Almost 100 years ago, US women won the right to vote, and it shocked the world. Since then, we have had many victories, but there is still a long way to go, and we are in constant fear of losing what we have already won. With our current state of affairs, women in the US are rising up to face the inequalities with proud, strong voices, determined to punch through that glass ceiling.
Lovelace’s collection in Witch is a tribute to those women. There is a trigger warning at the beginning of the book for content related to abuse, violence, etc…. things women have faced far too often. She also states a clear warning in the beginning-
“This in not a
fairywitch tale…there is no fiery revolution. This is simply a story where women fight against the manmade structure that has long overstayed it’s welcome.”
Like it’s predecessor, The Princess Saves Herself In This One, the collection is broken into sections fitting the theme of the title: the trial; the burning; the firestorm; and the ashes. Within, the poetry reflects on: the “crimes” of women and what we have been accused of, both historically and currently (the trial); the way women have suffered and endured over the years and what we’ve been told to do to prevent our suffering- which includes many wonderful tongue & cheek pieces (see image)(the burning); the ability for women to raise each other up, defeat the beauty standards set by men, and find self confidence and acceptance, despite it be considered rebellious (the firestorm); and lastly, women who have taken a stand, used their voice (through all mediums, including poetry), and sacrificed for the betterment of all women’s rights and equality (the ashes).
In addition to the poems themselves, I want to note the formatting of her poetry. I’m not so great at interpreting this part, but I love that the entire book is in red text. It makes me think of fire, aiding in the imagery that her words, her poetry is almost aflame on the page. I’m sure there is more intention behind the choice, but I like that Lovelace went outside the box with that decision. As well, there is a lot of creativity within the form of the words themselves (which I googled to learn that the technique is called concrete poetry) in which Lovelace has created shapes or used the white space of the page to emphasize the meaning behind the words. This too aided in reader comprehension.
It’s a very powerful collection, and Lovelace holds nothing back. Each poem is a punch, and in many instances, she pulls the ol’ one-two with back to back stanzas that’ll knock the reader out.
I blazed through the collection, and unlike other poetry I’ve read, the main emotions that come through are exactly what Lovelace intended- fury, strength, and determination. If you’re looking for some fire, The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One is a definite recommendation from me.