An Amateur Review of & by Amy Kinsman

First published on Patreon 20th September 2018

I met Amy at Verbose Manchester back in May and I loved their performance. So, naturally, I found their twitter and ordered their pamphlet.

In short, I like it. This is hardly a surprise seeing as I’ve enjoyed both of the collections I’ve reviewed. Either I’ve had terrific luck thus far or I’m not terribly discerning. I rather hope it’s the former or these reviews will just become adverts really fast. But we’ll cross that particular bridge when we get to it.

The collection is mythic and sensual. Even when Amy is talking about themself I get a sense of distance, like they’re writing their own beautifully mundane legend. There’s a level of gentility in their writing I really appreciate, one that softens the occasionally explicit sexuality of the pamphlet.

However, this gentility and mysticism sometimes tips into meandering. The longest piece, it’s like this feels about 1/3 too long. It’s beautifully written, unashamedly bi/queer and takes its time exploring the ambivalent complexity of romantic/sexual past loves. But it could maybe do with a little more haste.

I think Amy’s strongest pieces are the briefest ones. the moth, the moon and the bathroom light is only 13 lines long and is easily my favourite poem in the collection. The second stanza is a thing of beauty and I would love to see it on a print/poster:

the moth knows nothing of lycanthropy –
satellites, orbits, celestial bodies, gods, tides,
devoted insect that it is, hurting, forgetting

That being said, this is still a well crafted, heartfelt, gentle collection. It blunts the harshest edges of difficult emotions so it can slip between your ribs and nestle behind your heart without you even noticing. I’ll be thinking about this for a while.

You can find & in some of the following places:

Amazon/Indigo Dreams

Cover image is the cover of &: A white ampersand on a brick wall. ‘Winner of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2017’ is printed across the top.

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Three Drops from a Cauldron: Samhain 2018

Super thrilled to be part of this Samhain Special by Three Drops from a Cauldron.

Three Drops from a Cauldron

The nights are getting longer, the veil is (if you believe in this sort of thing) getting thinner – spooky season is well and truly underway. Why not invite our Samhain 2018 special in to sit with you awhile? We promise it won’t bite…

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Fear is your friend

First published on Patreon 8th October 2018

Sometimes fear is awful. It can be debilitating. Sometimes, fear sticks itself to the roof of my mouth and between my lungs and the base of my skull, leaving me thoughtless and wordless. Sometimes, fear keeps me rooted to the spot so long I forget how to move.

But even with all that, fear isn’t my enemy. Like all emotions, it’s information. The information may be overwhelming me to the point I can’t process it properly, it may not be complete, but it is important. When what I’m making frightens me, this is information I absolutely need. Advice I’ve read/been given has often told me to ignore fear and forge on regardless. It operates under the assumption that my fear is baseless, irrational, disproportionate. This is neither useful nor true. What if my fear is telling me this work may harm me? What if it’s telling me I don’t have the skills yet? What if it’s telling me that I’m not ready to deal with the emotions this will trigger? What if I ignore that, just keep writing, and end up doing myself a lot of damage in the process? This isn’t so much a ‘what if’ as it is a summary of the way I repeatedly re-traumatised myself through my poetry whilst at university because I thought that’s what poets did. If I’d stopped to listen to my fear, maybe I wouldn’t have gone through some of the emotional turmoil I did.

What I’m saying is listen to your fear. Sit with it. Ask your fear its name, its purpose. If it is solely a fear on the unknown, or a fear of failure, it can probably be safely ignored. But if this fear is telling you – like it told me when I wrote Wanting – that this thing will uncover some deeply uncomfortable emotions, it may be time to focus on self care and take your time. Sometimes, you fear will tell you that now is not the time. It’s OK to listen then. It’s OK to put this project down and come back to it when you are ready. It’s OK to never be ready.

Fear is your friend. It’s not always your most helpful friend, but no single emotion can be. It’s still worth listening to.

An Amateur Review of Peluda by Melissa Lozada-Oliva

First published on Patreon on August 23, 2018
Like a lot of people, I’ve seen Melissa‘s poems floating around social media. Her performances are hilarious and poignant and in the way she discusses in this article (that I would highly recommend), very much a performance. Not to say that it’s inauthentic – and what even is authenticity anyway? – but that she performs for her audience, even if that audience is herself.
I see this reflected in Peluda. She explains herself but doesn’t, like she wants you to understand but isn’t gonna break it down if you don’t get it. So I don’t get it, in a lot of ways. The collections talks a lot about body hair, about it’s removal and what that means. It talks a lot about growing up in the space between ‘immigrant’ and ‘American’. Being in immigrant kid, with the rootlessness and expectation that comes with it, strikes a chord. But a lot of specificity, a lot of the content rooted in Latindad, I don’t understand on that bone deep level. That’s OK though, I don’t need to get it.
The style is loud, unapologetic even in it’s apology. One moment that stuck out for me more than any other is in You Use Your Hands So Much When You Talk:
alternate universe where! daughters of immigrants/are not overwhelmed by all that they are/supposed to be
Also the Wolf Girl Suite is pretty incredible. If you read nothing else in this collection, read that.
In case you can’t tell, I like this collection a lot. I would definitely recommend it. If you can get it from your local library or independent bookshop please do. Here are some places you can get it online:
The cover image is the cover of Peluda. 3 identical illustrations of a dark haired person kneeling in black boots spread out on a yellow background.