Literature Reviews

Poetry Review: HEROIN & SUGAR-CANE: They All Call Me Baby*

heroin and sugarcane

Rating: ★★★★★

Title: Heroin & Sugar-Cane: They All Call Me Baby*

Author: Giana Angelillo

Genre: Poetry

Publication Date: 2016

Publisher: Author

Where to buy: Heroin & Sugar-Cane

Summary: “A collection of poetry about addiction.” (Source: Goodreads)

The (please don’t end) AMAZING

First of all, I must stress that this poetry collection is textually and visually explicit. There are images of needles and needles being injected in this e-book. The chapbook is violent for the senses, but I believe that is Giana Angelillo’s intention.

Heroin & Sugar-Cane is not an easy read; the pages are filled with endless metaphors that would take a while to decipher (yes, that is a good thing). Having read All Kids Go To Heaven beforehand, I was partially prepared for Angelillo’s unrelenting writing; I was still taken aback. The collection never pauses except for images of (Angelillo using?) needles. However, I am going to presume that this collection is autobiographical in nature so I can begin to understand why such images were included as some of her poetry was just as vivid.

The 33-page chapbook follows a narrative-like structure, split into DETOX and SOBRIETY, but even then, the theme of addiction was incredibly complicated; it would take quite a while to decipher some of Angelillo’s metaphors, contrasts, symbols, and repetitions. What connected me to this chapbook was the overall realisation that healing is not linear, not in the slightest. In a similar tone to All Kids Go To Heaven, Angelillo’s writing style is erratic which make the poems seem dream-like, little moments or pictures or feelings that cannot be pinned down.

Tell God I’ve got my make-up on. & I’m ready to see him now. (p.31)

Towards the end of the collection, Angelillo temporarily aligns herself with Christ, in terms of sacrifice. Angelillo seems to identify more with Christ than God, perhaps alluding to Christ’s isolation from God at his time of death. Perhaps Angelillo feels like she is not that different from Christ, someone who is capable of recovery.

Why did I read it?

I don’t like reading easy stuff, and this certainly was not simple in the slightest. I really enjoyed All Kids Go To Heaven so I just had to buy this e-book as well.

Does the author have other works?

Giana Angelillo has one other poetry collection: All Kids Go To Heaven. I am not sure if she has released other collections or not.


I will re-read Heroin and Sugar-Cane across my life, as I think it expresses something so raw about humanity. Please read it!


– Melissa Jennings



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