As someone who absolutely adored Rupi Kaur’s collection of poems Milk and Honey, I was delight to be gifted with Amanda Lovelace’s the princess saves herself in this one, not least because at first glance the poetesses present their poetry in a similar fashion, delivering the force of their words as much with the unconventional print of their poems as with the words themselves, not to mention that they also share the same publishing house.
Like Kaur’s first collection, the book is spilt into four parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, you, drawing on many similar themes of womanhood, abuse, sexual assault, trauma, grief– just to name a few. The first three sections bring us on a journey of the author’s life whilst the final section is dedicated to you, the reader. I have to say, before even opening the book, the title definitely captured my attention: this is the story that Disney never wrote. The one where the princess can save herself without a prototype prince.
With all this in said, I had very high hopes for the collection of poems, especially given that it has received quite high ratings from Goodreads and Waterstones and perhaps it is precisely because my hopes were so high that I’ve judged the collection a little too harshly. What really drew me to Kaur’s collection was the way she managed to eloquently ooze beautiful meaning out of unpretentious, yet carefully selected words. Lovelace attempts a similar approach, using quite colloquial and unembellished language which definitely renders her work accessible and explicit. I found however that on the occasions in which she did employ more evocative imagery, it actually had the opposite effect of making her poetry come across as a little cliché.
Another aspect of her work which may be tainting my judgement of her work is the fact that she uses vulgar language quiet a lot throughout the collection and in a way that I would say, is ineffective. Rather than adding to the tone of defiance and ferocity, the foul language in fact takes away from the strength of her poems, and runs the risk of presenting them as merely bitter outbursts.
One aspect that I did really enjoy, however, was the way she laid out her poems. Her poems occupied the pages in a creative style, adding an extra layer to their manifestations.
I don’t know how this ended up becoming a comparison review with Kaur’s collection but I guess it has become one unintentionally. The reason why I keep referring back to Kaur, again, is because both women do have a comparable style of expression. This is not to take away from Lovelace’s work. The painful, but necessary themes that she deals have undoubtedly reverberated with many individuals. Her poetry is however an acquired taste, one which after the first couple of poems, didn’t really engage me. Reading Lovelace’s collection however, I have come to realise and appreciate that we do sometimes take the unassuming narrative for granted; the mastery of simple language is perhaps not always as ‘simple’ as it might seem.