I’m taking a slightly different approach with this review, because poetry is such a difficult thing to really nail down, you know?
I love poetry, in all ways, shapes and forms. There’s something almost magical about it, and usually within the first few lines of something I instinctually know if it’s going to work for me or not. If I don’t feel that spark, then it’s a no-go.
Weirdly though, my whole theory on ‘yay or nay’ was tested here.
Starting Designated Mourner there was no initially zing, but I didn’t want to stop reading. Admittedly this was given to me as a review copy, but that wouldn’t have stopped me from going ‘nope, not for me’ in the beginning. I’m nothing if not honest.
There’s a feeling with this collection that it’s a ‘slow burner’, a kind of ongoing narrative that digs down into the earth and takes its time cooking over warm rocks or something (wow.. that made no sense!)
The cover and the title felt at odds with the poetry itself though. Maybe that’s part of the point? But what I found inside the collection were these earthy kind of experience based pieces that worked through emotion in a simple and rooted way.. and the front cover suggested dark-gothique to me. That’s where prejudgement will get you!
There is definitely much to be enjoyed in these poems (despite the title, theme, yadda yadda.. it’s ok enjoy stuff that’s not marshmallows and rainbows, true?) and there is a gentleness in some that created an even kind of up and down.
I was going to pick out a couple of lines or titles, but my e-reader is being a git at the moment (partly because I sat on the charger and bent it inside the device, but nevermind!)
A strangely compelling collection… Did I like it? I think so. Some of the poems stayed with me, residually, whereas others were gone as soon as I finished them.
I gotta say, I checked out Catherine Owen’s website and her photography is really great! I wondered if I re-read the collection now I would see some kind of comparisons or parallels with the pictures and the emotions/experiences. Definitely worth checking them out though: