3 out of 4 stars
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Confessions of a Manaholic by P.Pierre is a short collection of poetry written in the free verse style and lyrically evoking the ravishing effects of love turned into obsession and addiction. The poet has chosen more of a prose-like structure for her collection which is symmetrically organized into nine parts of 2 or 3 poems each. A woman’s voice gives free rein to her emotions and feelings for a man whose presence she either desperately craves for or violently rejects. Every part is preceded by a few lines in italics projecting the woman’s all-absorbing dependence on her beloved.
As a reader, I felt challenged to go beyond the first level of understanding of the poems in this collection. Depending on the way you look at them, there are different layers of meaning. What at first sight seems like the description of an ordinary love affair becomes the story of a woman trapped into the virtual world of her self-consuming passionate imagination. Part I, In the beginning, everything is simple…, includes only one poem, S.A.W. I may be wrong, but, considering the title of the collection, I decoded the abbreviation as referring to Sexually Aggressive Women. The first line (“What I want is you”) is indeed a strong opening statement revealing pure desire and determination. The entire poem is built on the contrast between the lack of knowledge about the identity of the man she wants and the strong feelings she has for him: “I know nothing about being with you, or even if you/ would want to share a view/ But I want you.” The obsessive repetition of the adversative coordinating conjunction “but” (7 times) reflects the woman’s confusion and conflicting thoughts: “But in a perfect world, everything will go my way/ But I once wrote, I lost two men in one day.” Her greatest fear is to get emotionally involved or committed to a single man: “I could love you for a long time/ But the first time I left you, broke us apart/ And I can’t bring myself to be with you only just to/ break your heart again.”
Part II, And then my mind goes on a trip, relies on the need to possess and be possessed: “You are mine now and in the future” versus “Every day you invade my thoughts/ Every night you enchant my flaws.” The poem Justin is not necessarily about a man by this name; in fact, she dreams of an ideal man springing out of her wild imagination and satisfying her deepest desires: “He’s the Christian Grey to my dreams/ Let’s call him Xavier Black or Anthony Supreme/ Hell, he’s just My Crack.” The lines of this poem acquire the erotic tonality of Fifty Shades of Grey and the urban vocabulary acts as a reinforcement of the kind of pleasure probably induced by cocaine. In both the poems Karma and For You, I sensed a hidden irony characteristic of the postmodern lyrical discourse which deconstructs the whole idea of perfect love as well as the traditional roles ascribed to men and women. The intertextual references to the happy ending fairy tales, Greek mythology and even Shakespeare’s plays are used to constantly negate her false pretences and promises to be faithful and submissive: “Not quite Helen of Troy, but the Othello to this kinship.” Moreover, the postmodernist dimension of the poems is also visible at a graphic level, hence the use of defragmentation (“I. Will. Love. You” or “My Destiny. Is. With. You.”).
If part III, Isn’t love Grand?, is an euphoric eulogy of love in all its forms and manifestations, parts IV (Are we going too fast?) and V (Back to normal?) express her wish to maintain her individuality and independence. Although meditating on both the tragic and divine nature of love, the lyrical voice cannot fully accept the strings of unconditional love: “I cannot be tasked with the consequences of the heart,/ Which I am not equipped to protect.” The use of alliteration enhances her fear of failure and disappointment (“Premature promises promote plagiarism of proliferating pacts” or “Before I self-destruct and sabotage this and what we may have”). There are poems like December or Balance in which her search for her own identity takes the shape of a feminist revolt against patriarchal stereotypes: “You treated me like a woman and never acted brand new/ But I still believe I deserve more than you.” Finally, part VI, Then it all just stopped, looks like a harsh reality check whereas part VII, Party of one, part VIII, He didn’t take away my inspiration and part IX, Building, reiterate the same oscillation between her insecurity and fear of loneliness, on the one hand, and the imperative of learning to live for herself, on the other hand. By no coincidence, the last poem is called Circle as it alludes to the cyclical repetition of the love-pain movement.
I mainly appreciate the poet’s ambitious intentions of exploring the darker side of a woman’s love bordering on physical and mental addiction to one or more men. Even if I enjoyed reading most of the poems, there were a few instances when the lyrical voice became too syrupy and sentimental or when there was such a contradictory display of feelings that I felt lost and confused. For these reasons, I am rating this book 3 out of 4 stars. In my view, P. Pierre could consider adding more poems to each of the distinct parts and give the entire collection more unity and cohesion. I am recommending these poems to all those who like reading love poetry with a twist. In as much as it gives you wings, love can also break you to pieces. The poet challenges us to reassess our definition of love and the thin line between love and fixation.
Confessions of a MANAHOLIC
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