Hello, this is Heather posting. Hope everyone who celebrates it had a wonderful festive period! Today I'm reviewing some of the most emotionally moving poetry that I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Many thanks to Hristova for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Author: Emmanuella Hristova
Published: August 2018
Length: 50 pages
Brief Description (from Amazon)
I hesitate when you kiss me because I
am afraid you will taste the disaster
brewing underneath my skin.
Emmanuella's debut poetry collection documents the birth and death of a relationship, and the death of her sister. Each poem is an emotional time-stamp that plunges the reader into the depths of the author’s feelings as they burgeon and wane. The book reads like a diary and chronicles the boundaries of the things that we all feel: love, heartache, and pain that gives way to hope.
Hristova’s collection explores a challenging year in the poet’s life as she enters a new relationship, loses a loved one and experiences heartbreak. Her free-form writing style is raw and moving, initially expressing hope and excitement, then melancholy and anger. The illustrations in her collection, not yet included in the eBook are incredible, absolutely stunning, and I really hope these can be adapted to eBook soon!
Towards the end of the collection, there are some extremely powerful pieces of feminist poems. I’m immensely proud of how much feminism has already achieved over the past century, allowing women to be educated, work, vote, and generally be treated more like equals. Of course, this isn’t true for everywhere in the world and is still very much a work in progress, but new movements (like the new up-skirting law in the UK) are definitely moving us closer to gender equality. Hristova’s poetry really delves into why these movements are so desperately needed, with some still holding misogynistic beliefs. ‘Upon being a woman’ places emphasis on this, with Hristova’s speaker repeating ‘men never prove me wrong’ between naming harrowing examples of the various men who have abused her. The aforementioned poem’s reprise ends with a moving plead of ‘Prove me wrong. Please’ – which I hope will come true for her soon. Unfortunately, a lot of women are stigmatised and victimised simply for being female and Hristova’s poetry acts as a poignant reminder that gender equality still has a long way to go.
From a literary perspective, Hristova is extremely skilled in form and structure. Even without the illustrations, the way the words dance across the page, some bolder or larger than others, brings the poetry to life. October 18th especially induces a sense of emptiness with the lengthy gap between the brackets. I absolutely adore how the collection reads like a diary in chronological order to enable the reader a greater connection. She also intelligently crafts different tones, with increased repetition and a bold use of language in the more passionate poems. Sometimes the sheer quantity of similes and metaphors, each individually really stunning, does weaken the poem as a whole. For instance, September 29th builds some spectacular imagery around how the speaker’s dazed lover views them as a doll, rather than a woman, but mid-way through the poem she turns into an astronomical, dreamy sort of apparition. I felt that these few lines (whilst undoubtably beautiful) reduce the doll portrayal somewhat. My favourite poem in the collection is December 10th, in which the speaker questions what Christmas present would be suitable for their dying loved one. The simplistic, broken form speaks volumes about the internal suffering of the speaker in a way that anyone who has encountered loss can empathise with.
Hristova’s poetry collection captures some painfully genuine emotions in an artful and sensitive manner. Honestly, I would have liked some positive poems in between some of the later, darker ones – being comforted by a friend, the therapeutic feeling of writing and painting, even small stuff like eating a super delicious sandwich – but given how horrendous Hristova’s year was, I can totally understand why such cheerful content would feel dishonest! Overall, I really enjoyed reading her poetry and cannot wait until the next collection comes out.