The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One by Amanda Lovelace
Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing on March 5th, 2019
“a chorus of mermaids cried out to her then, ‘DON’T BE AFRAID TO SING. BELT IT OUT.
YOUR VOICE COULD SINK SPACESHIPS.'”
CW: sexual abuse, sexual violence
The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One was on my list of most anticipated reads for 2019. And it was a satisfying conclusion to the “Women are Some Kind of Magic” trilogy.
Let me just start off by saying that I’m not poetry expert. I’m not here to analyze what’s considered poetry and what’s not. I personally believe that format and grammar aside, if something speaks to me and is called poetry by the author, then it’s poetry.
I know people rag on this kind of poetry saying it’s “tumblrspeak” or “Instagram nonsense,” but I appreciate these poets getting me into poetry. And it’s not just me.
I went to a Rupi Kaur event in Toronto last year and I saw people of all ages saying the poems with Kaur by memory. It’s amazing what these young poets are doing for the next generation. Not everyone is going to love reading Robert Frost, just like Classics aren’t everybody’s cup of tea. But as long as it gets people reading, there’s no need to judge.
I really connect with Lovelace’s work because she can communicate complicated emotions into a succinct poem. Her work ranges from feminism, sexual abuse, sexual violence, and healing.
Like her other two poem collections in the series, Lovelace intertwines fantasy, fairy tales, and mythical creatures into her poems. I loved the mermaid theme throughout the collection. Side note: I took a mermaid class one time and absolutely loved it. But that blog post is for another time…
I think why I love coming back to Lovelace’s work is due to her poetry collections always having an arc. Her poems can be very dark in the beginning, but you can slowly see hope and positivity being brought back into her life as you continue reading.
You can see an entire emotional journey unfold in 200 pages and it’s satisfying to read about Lovelace always picking herself up and coming out of some very dark places. Having said that, it’s not an easy book to read. I can’t read it in one sitting even though it’s not long.
The heavy subject matter is a lot and some of it hits very close to home. I especially related to her seeking escapism through books and her favourite fantastical lands. And her poems about being a victim or a survivor were difficult to read because I completely understand where that label confusion comes from.
But one poem really spoke to me and I instantly knew exactly what Lovelace is referring to:
“i’ve always fancied myself a mermaid of sorts. i must confess that i haven’t swam since long before I started punishing my body for all the things that were never its fault.”
In just two short sentences, I unpacked that multilayered poem that’s rich with imagery and meaning.
Something that I particularly enjoyed about this last collection is her inclusion of other poets. Although I didn’t love all the contributions, “Because I Am One of Them” by Nikita Gill is fantastic. I’ve highlighted that poem and added a sticky note to it.
As Lovelace writes in the beginning, make sure to practice self care before, during, and after reading.
If you’re looking to get into poetry, I highly recommend Lovelace’s work. It’s easier to decipher than classic poetry and it won’t feel like you’re reading something for English class.
“i am magic
all the days i am
& i am magic
all the days i am