Book Reviews

The Witch Doesn’t Burn in this One

I knew I was in for a mixed bag with this one, having seen very divided opinions on Lovelace’s first collection, The Princess Saves Herself in this One. Reviews of her work seem to be extremely hit or miss, with some hailing the poetry for being relatable and moving, while others condemn it as not real poetry. I decided to give Lovelace’s work a try to see what all the fuss was about, deciding to be open minded about the format and seeing if the content of the poems would convince me. I can’t say I’m surprised with how I ended up feeling about the work, but I was still pretty disappointed.

“women:
we can
spin
g o l d
out of
d i r t
– betwitching.”

Now I will note that there were certainly a fair number of poems that I find a few strong feminist messages it was few and far between. While I can appreciate the attempt to be cohesive it felt like it was trying too hard to follow a theme which quickly became repetitive and tiring. Then there are ones that aren’t empowering but just detail over and over again how men treat women badly and sure, yeah, there are a lot of awful people out there. It started to feel like the bad was repeated constantly for dramatic effect, making some of the poems really impersonal and like it didn’t have much meaning at times.

As for the writing style, I felt that most of the content wasn’t so much poetry as much as simple and short sentences that are unnecessarily spaced out. To me, poetry is a literary art form that uses rhyming or aesthetics to convey a story or meaning. Maybe I’m a bit old fashioned, but I didn’t get either from this collection. Placing each word on a different line in all lower case doesn’t do anything for the poem aesthetically, it just looks like a mess and is a waste of paper. I tried really hard to just accept the format, but I really didn’t like it. I’ve heard the argument that it falls under the category of minimalist poetry but it didn’t fit that style to me either.

I was also surprised to find, and I don’t say this lightly because I don’t feel that I’m the type of person that is easily offended, but there were a couple of poems that I found extremely problematic. There was one poem that talked about a victim of abuse at home later greeting an abusive relationship with a smile, and having been a victim of both I found the poem to be deeply unsettling. Near the end, there are several poems that encourage misandry, which is sexist and wrong and goes against what feminism stands for. For poems that are meant to be empowering and full of truth, I found several of them to be misguided at best and outright offensive at worst.

It’s unfortunate, but this poetry collection just wasn’t for me and that’s just my preference. This doesn’t diminish the impact it might have for others that enjoy it and find some truth that speaks to them. Personally, I feel like this wasn’t the best example of feminist poetry and there are far better collections out there.



Title: The Witch Doesn’t Burn in this One
Series: Women Are Some Kind of Magic #2
Author: Amanda Lovelace
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Publication Date: March 6, 2018
Pages: 208
Format: ARC / Ebook
Source: NetGalley
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Synopsis
The witch: supernaturally powerful, inscrutably independent, and now—indestructible. These moving, relatable poems encourage resilience and embolden women to take control of their own stories. Enemies try to judge, oppress, and marginalize her, but the witch doesn’t burn in this one.

4 Comments

  • Jennifer

    208 pages! GOOD LORD! That’s a lot of pages for poetry! Especially as you said the genre is best described as MINIMALIST poetry. Yikes. The whole point is the say things with least amount of words possible. This makes me think a little of the collection I have called “The Beauty of the Husband” which was about a woman’s divorce. I know it isn’t quite the same but I am sure there are overlapping concepts. She has only 29 “tangos” as she puts it, but it’s poems. That’s how you make a poetry book with a theme.
    Jennifer recently posted…The Great Vegan Grains Book ReviewMy Profile

    • Jamie

      Yeah themed poetry can be kind of difficult because you risk being too repetitive. The most recent collection I finished by Maya Angelou had themed sections, but there were only around 54 pages in total. There were A LOT of poems and I felt like I was just hearing the same things over and over again.

  • Aimee (Aimee, Always)

    Personally I’m actually a huge fan of that kind of “modern” poetry, if you will, but it sucks that the poems are repetitive! That’s one of the cons of poetry collections, I guess–since they’re short and follow a really narrow theme, it’s pretty inevitable that they all start to sound the same after a while. 🙁 So sorry you didn’t like this, but thanks for the heads up!
    Aimee (Aimee, Always) recently posted…This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter: Protect Your Hearts, Readers!My Profile

    • Jamie

      I was hoping that I could love this collection since The Princess Saves Herself was so highly praised and I’ve been looking for relatable, feminist poetry. I try to be open minded about poetry format, but it can be very hit or miss for me.

      As for the book being repetitive, yeah I think it definitely stems from the book trying to have a theme while, from my understanding of the first book, the collection was more varied and personal. I think I’d probably enjoy the first book better for that reason.

      It’s a shame that it didn’t work for me ebut I’m glad that there are many people that still love this collection and can get something from the messages within! That’s really all that matters. 🙂

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