I went for this little book of poems based on the fact that Amanda Lovelace started off self-published. The Princess Saves Herself in This One began popping up on my Tumblr feed as people were getting more and more interested in this small, self-published volume. And that’s the thing that all aspiring writers want to see: someone else getting it done. So I picked up a copy.
Lovelace has stated unabashed that this collection of poems is nonfiction; she and the narrator are one. In a peanutbutter and jelly metaphor, they are both the jelly. (Get it? Sticky? Keeps it all together in a delightfully sweet way??) Lovelace superimposes fantasy characters--such as a queen, princess, and possibly multiple dragons--on the people in her life's story. Lovelace’s layering of her characters with fantasy elements made it easy to see if her feelings concerning certain people changed over time—or if they didn’t. Even if you were going into this blind, the back and forth crossing out of “I” and “the princess” would have gotten you up to speed. This use of the strikethrough was her best execution of “showing” without her explicitly walking up to her point, looking at it, and painting it in neon. But we’ll get to that.
My favorite section of this piece was the damsel. During this section is when I felt as if Lovelace was moving away from giving the reader poems of just universal truths and musings on coffee. Or, more specifically, this section contained more than powerful titles at the end of the poems. But let’s do an example of both. The poem titled “what it really means to lose your innocence.” is easily described as a common truth—you think your parents are indestructible until you find out otherwise—but the spaces between the separate letters in the words “they aren’t” and “shatterproof” are what gives this truth that poem-y feel (page 65). The poems contained within The Princess Saves Herself in This One that resembled this Nugget of Truth mentality didn’t have an emotional hit with me. The tie of the title at the end of the poem is what pulled me through those poems and onto the next page. However, then Lovelace included poems like “starfish will always remind me of you.” (page 75) which reminded me why I was jotting down notes in the back of a Barns & Noble in the first place. I won’t describe the content since I believe it’s one of the best poems contained within TPSHITO, but “starfish” gave me the sharp step within Lovelace that I had wanted continuously drawn throughout the collection. Sitting at the oddly-placed table near the WWII section in Barns & Noble, I had paused and made a star in my notebook before starting on the next page.
Going into this, I wanted to say that I loved this poetry collection like drinking a cup of damn good coffee on a lazy spring morning. This work, if considered alone, I thought could be a beautiful break into the literary world—heck, I could even use my spring metaphor here. But, considered amongst the established poets and poetesses we readers see every day, I feel like Lovelace is still in her fledgling stages (which is not a bad thing). I hope that, in her next collection, Lovelace continues to expand her wings. I want nothing more than to have her further gracing our lives and our bookshelves with her thoughts.
I only ask that she doesn’t show me them.
Reader Rating: 3.5 cups of coffee outta 5