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Author Spotlight: Amanda Lovelace

About the Author:

Amanda Lovelace is a poet who debuted her work online, making many fans via social media outlets. As her popularity grew, there was a demand for her published work. This lead to her “Women Are Some Kind of Magic” and “Things That H(a)unt” collections. I fell for her haunting poetry and strong thematic writing, and credit her for bringing me back to reading poetry. 

Poetry Collections

The Princess Saves Herself In This One
Published: April 2016, CreateSpace

Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: love, relationships, heartbreak, self love.

“Once upon a time…”

Hence starts poet Lovelace in The Princess Saves Herself In This One. It’s obviously a quick read, as is the nature of poetry books. I know some people like to read them a poem or section at a time, but I devour them, looking for the whole picture. In this collection, Lovelace has four sections: The Princess, The Damsel, The Queen, and You.img_7095

The Princess is what I take as an introduction to our poet, which goes into heartbreaking poems of her struggles with her the relationships with her mother, sisters, lovers, friends, and herself.  The poems are emotional and powerful as she discusses her mother’s illness, her sister’s sudden death, and her body image through her own and other’s eyes. It easily draws the reader in, and though I haven’t experienced the trauma she had, I could feel my heart break for her.

The Damsel is about relationships past and present, illness, and death. Throughout the poems, the trend of titles leading the reader to realize that through those relationships, the most important thing the author learned was to love and mend herself, despite her struggles in some serious issues. There’s some sad, rough imagery in this section (though not exclusively this section) and despite that, Lovelace still portrays this strength and faith, even when she doesn’t feel it. She even addresses it, unclaiming the strength despite it’s visibility to others:

“I am sick to death of everyone telling me how strong I am. Me? Strong? I only act strong because it’s the only distraction I have…

-a feather disguised as steel.”

The Queen is where Lovelace describes herself rising from the ashes of her past and looking to the future. There are poems of her thoughts to her lost loved ones, to her those that did her wrong, to all she’s overcome, and then to the relationship she’s in. I have to say, I screenshot so many of the lines, because there were so many that I felt I could relate to in this section.

You is partly the author talking to herself about her poetry and words (I love how she talks about poetry through poetry!), partly open letters to a selection of people who have touched her life, and partly to women and children in today’s society. These are all words of encouragement and hope, and in a few instances, acknowledgement of struggle.

“I say to him, “We will always have our Octobers.”

-even when everything else fades”

Overall, I found this collection to be beautiful, moving, emotional, powerful, and about a million other wonderful adjectives. I will definitely be adding The Princess Saves Herself In This One to my poetry collection to reread when I need a encouragement boost and reminder that I can slay my own dragons, too.

The Witch Doesn’t Burn In This One
Published: March 2018, Andrew McMeel Publishing

Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: love, relationships, heartbreak, diversity, equality.

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 feminist call to arms torch.

img_7096Lovelace’s collection in Witch is a tribute to 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 fairy witch 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.

To Make Monsters Out of Girls
Published: September 2018, Andrew McMeel Publishing

Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: love, relationships, heartbreak, diversity, equality.

This Lovelace collection is actually a remastered version of some of her older work- which I say it a positive thing, proving the girl had such chops before her first publication that her publishers said, “What else you got?” And she pulled these from the vault. The only problem with that, is she seemed to have outgrown the content that became her third collection… which came across to her readership.

img_1563Although I admire Lovelace’s work and adored the first two publications under her name (see my reviews  for Princess here and Witch here), I found it harder to emotionally relate to To Make Monsters Out of Girls– partly because it wasn’t what I was expecting (some sort of fairy-tale spin similar to her past work), and partly because it is such an intimate sample of work. As I said, the topic discussed within seemed to be something that Lovelace touched on in Princess, so as a reader, it felt like going back over Lovelace’s relationship with a microscope, when we only needed the window she provided in Princess.

Now, I’ll pretend I just picked up this copy without prior knowledge of Lovelace’s poetry, and say that this collection is still beautifully written, and certainly emotional, descriptive, and powerful. It also contains a trigger warning for abuse, self-harm, and other potentially traumatic triggers, alluring to the content within. The collection is broken into three sections: monster-boy, monster-girl, and sun-heart. In monster-boy, Lovelace reveals the emotional trauma of an abusive past relationship- which as she prefaces, is her cathartics for finally letting the relationship go (I respect that). Next comes monster-girl, the section in which she shows how harmful the relationship was, and how it effected her- but also how she healed. Then there’s sun-heart, in which she learns how to love and trust again with not only another man, but with herself.

Overall, it’s still a very good collection, but as someone who hasn’t been through these emotions (#chronicallysingle), it’s was hard for me to relate to the writing. I did mark a few that I could connect with, but far less than I have in the past. It want to also add, though I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped, I certainly think that this collection could speak to some far more than it did to me, and therefore I still would recommend the read.

To Mermaid’s Voice Returns In This One
Published: March 2019, Andrew McMeel Publishing

img_2280In the third installment of “women are some kind of magic”, The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One, the collection starts off with a trigger warning, which moves on to a forward from Lang Leav that introduces the rest of the collection. Leav mentions what power the voice has, and sets the preface for what is to come while reading. Next, Lovelace tosses in a few “from the poet” stanzas that grab the reader’s attention. Then, the collection is broken down into four parts: the sky, the shipwreck, the song, and the surviving.

The Sky kicks off with some powerful poems of what I interpret to be Lovelace’s past traumas. There are poems of abuse, rape, and childhood molestation, which transition into how she escaped there terrors as a child with books and fairy tales. Though clearly affected by the past, the author still finds solace in the idea of love, of the fairy tale endings, even when she is struggling to believe in their true existence.

The Shipwreck is a continuation of The Sky, but progressing into adulthood and relationships. Still dealing with abuse, still trying to find solace in fairy tales, still trying to find love but only finding the heartache. I felt this section is where Lovelace is showing her loss of voice. She knows she should have spoke up, but wasn’t able to find her voice to do so.

The Song is the return of the voice. It is where Lovelace calls out those that have done wrong, and stating that they will never take from her again. There is also forgiveness and closure, which I’ve noticed as a trend in Lovelace’s work. The reader can see the therapy in the poetry and the power behind it.

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Finally, The Surviving starts out:

“a chorus of mermaids cried out to her then, “DON’T BE AFRAID TO SING…”

Lovelace calls upon her fellow poets and together, they compose the last section of the collection, sharing poems from Caitlyn Siehl, Clementine von Radics, Trista Mateer, Gretchen Gomez, Noor Shirazie, Jenna Clare, Ky Robinson, Yena Sharma Purmasir, Morgan Nikola-Wren, McKayla Robbin, Sophia Elaine Hanson, Orion Carloto, and Nikita Gill. It’s a strong roll call, and every other page is from Lovelace, filling in with “morals of the story”-style poetry.

Lovelace has yet again nailed it. At first, I wasn’t sure if I enjoyed The Mermaid as much as I enjoyed The Witch because the latter was such a strong battle cry, but the more I read into the poetry, the more I understood that even though it’s a quieter voice, it is still extremely powerful. I will be purchasing a finalized copy for my collection, and I encourage others to do the same.

 

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Categories: Author Spotlights, Nonfiction, Poetry

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