poetry · review

The Princess Saves Herself In This One – Amanda Lovelace

“Ah, life- the thing that happens to us while we’re off somewhere else blowing on dandelions & wishing ourselves into the pages of our favorite fairy tales.”

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Blurb: “A poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. Explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations.”

Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Poetry 2016, This Princess Saves Herself In This One is a poetry collection that I’m sure you’ve heard about before. Originally self-published and picked up a year later by Andrew Mcmeel Publishing, is an autobiographic insight into Amanda Lovelace’s life.

Trigger warnings: child abuse, partner abuse, sexual assault, eating disorders, self-harm, alcoholism, death, suicide, cancer and grief.

I often find it hard to review poetry because it’s something so personal; the lives of the writer pouring themselves on the pages with imagery and metaphors. This book reads almost like a diary at points that the thoughts and feelings expressed were meant for no one else to see and that created this bond. It felt like I was connected to the writer and she laid out the story arc of her life before me.

In terms of the triggers listed above, the big chunk of them are littered among the “Princess” section which chronicles an abusive family relationship and mental illness. “The Damsel” section is also quite heavy reading as the story shifts to a girl who makes herself someone who needs to be saved.  My personal favourite is “The Queen” in which the girl decides to save herself (hence the title) and starts to fight back, finally realising that she is worthy of so much more than she believed before and that she can indeed pick herself back up. Universally, from other reviews, the final section “you” is the most popular with many praising it for the feminist themes. “You” is a call to arms where the attention shifts to the reader, addressing them directly. The poems in this section  are a reminder to the reader to take care of themselves, bestowing the writer’s wisdom and everything she’s learnt. The latter two sections were definitely my favourites and ones I will no doubt revisit in the future.

However, it’s hard not to notice the mixed reviews with many sarcastically writing their reviews in the forms of some poems in the book while others flat out criticise the form, saying it is quite simply not poetry. I can understand where these points of view come from as a lot of the poems are more one sentence statements than many would consider poetry, and I did flick through a lot of the shorter ones without much thought.

This is a collection I would pick up again in a heartbeat and happily analyse the poems in a different way since I discovered after-the-fact that this collection is about Amanda Lovelace’s life.

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