NEW #POETRY REVIEW of THE MERMAID’S VOICE RETURNS IN THIS ONE by Amanda Lovelace

Amanda Lovelace’s Women Are Some Kind of Magic series include some of my all-time favourite collections of poetry. The Princess Saves Herself In This One and especially The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One are two of my all-time favourite poetry collections. Lovelace is somehow able to grasp the reader’s heart in one hand with her extremely raw and emotional poetry, and on the other hand, fill us with so much power that I just want to roar to the heavens. Her poetry gets me.

Although I typically describe Lovelace’s works as a firestorm celebrating womanhood and healing, The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One lacked that power which has previously defined Lovelace’s works as so powerful and unique. There seemed to be a disconnect when I read the poetry, as though there was a haze that made my ability to fully embrace the words so wholeheartedly as I have previously in her works. I don’t mean at all to detract Lovelace’s healing process and the way in which she expresses herself, but it felt repetitive. Repetitive in the sense that I felt as though I have read these poems before – it was the same theme, similar poems that lacked the rawness of her previous two collections. I feel as though this collection was not needed, in the sense that this series could have been left as a duology and thus, it would have maintained its incredible panache.

In terms of structure, it maintains the thematic division of poetry from the first two collections of this series. It is divided into four sections: (i) the sky; (ii) the shipwreck; (iii) the song; and, (iv) the surviving. These ‘chapters’ connect with the overarching ‘theme’ which was the fairytale of A Little Mermaid and the concept of demonising women throughout history. The one addition that was not found within the other previous two collections, was that The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One included poetry from other poets.

The poetry from other poets actually emphasised how much I was not connecting with Lovelace’s words, in that, the featured poets provided more power and rawness in their little additions than the entire collection. Even though I did enjoy the poetry from other poets, such as Nikita Gill (who is literally my favourite of all time), Clementine Von Radics, Sophia Elaine Hanson, Yena Sharma Purmasir and nine others, they were placed within the overall narrative in a way that was supposed to flow from Lovelace’s perspective to theirs, and it did not work to its fullest potential. It became quite fragmented and thus, exasperating to jump from Lovelace’s perspective to another poet’s personal experiences. I feel as though Lovelace may have also done this in terms of trying to incorporate more diverse voices and a more intersectional understanding of feminism, than just the white feminism that her other two previous collections could be claimed to perpetuate.

In this instance, these featured poets just emphasised the lacklustre poetry of Lovelace herself within this collection and it worked against her.

Overall, I do feel as though I need to reread this collection when it releases so I can try and fully immerse myself within her experience and see if that makes a difference. I do think that reading it as an E-Book diminishes the magic of it, so to speak. I do still adore Lovelace’s poetry collections and I rate The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One 3 out of 5 stars.

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