Thursday, March 5, 2020

Jessica Thomas-Drake reviews Amanda Earl's Aftermath or Scenes of a Woman Convalescing (2019)

Jessica Drake-Thomas was good enough to provide the first review of Amanda Earl's Aftermath or Scenes of a Woman Convalescing (2019). Thanks so much! You can see the original review here. AsDrake-Thomas writes:
“The first blooms of spring make me cry. I thought I/would never experience them again,” the speaker says in Amanda Earl’s chapbook of poems, AFTERMATH, or Scenes of a Woman Convalescing.

The poems are excerpted from a longer, multi-part poem that Earl wrote following a bout with pneumonia, full body sepsis and a toxic mega colon (from Notes). I had never really thought about how much poetry is in the art of healing. Not until I read this book. When we first meet the speaker, she is healing, following surgery. As the work progresses, the reader sees how the speaker grows and heals.

“I am giddy with love for/the trees, the rain and the wind,” the speaker says. “I say inappropriate/thing because I am happy. There is no wall for/me anymore. I am in love with you. You are alive./ I am alive. The ghosts surround us.” There’s such joie de vivre, particularly after where the speaker began the book.

“I left her on the bed, my/counterpart,” the speaker says. “She is in ICU and dying. I floated out of/her and yes, there is a doubling. I feel her silence. I/fill oblivion white sheets with colour.”

There’s such a sense of blooming, and rebirth in these pieces, but there’s also a sense of how far the speaker has come. This is shown through the small things, like the first taste of a tomato, or or the first time spring comes again. There is an appreciation of life, and a recognition of struggle. Her body has betrayed her, and modern medicine has brought her back. There’s so much poetry in the art of healing, and how a person returns to feeling well and alive again.

I absolutely loved this chapbook. I haven’t read anything like it before. Earl weaves spell-like pieces that draw the reader in. Her verse is both lovely and aching. Rumi once said that “the wound is where the Light enters you.” He meant that it’s our pain and how we choose to overcome it that helps us to grow, and that is evident here in Earl’s work.

It’s another example of excellent, absolutely top-notch work that has been published by Canadian above/ground press.

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