Title: Pain and Passion
Author: Ana Vowens
Where to buy: Pain and Passion
Summary: “Pain and Passion is a collection of poems written from the centre of heartbreak and sublimity.” (Source: Goodreads)
Content Warnings: blood imagery, sexual imagery, mention of alcohol, sexual slurs, use of the word gypsy, rape, self-harm, suicide, mention of knives, BDSM.
What I liked
Vowens’ collection is a lot to take in. The title suggests a balance between hurt and joy, but the collection mostly seemed to be about sexual passion and yearning for someone’s love. Is that the pain aspect? I’m not sure. Regarding the highly prevalent theme of sex/passion throughout, Vowens creates cinematic moments of lust through enjambment, allowing the reader to absorb her intense imagery.
I will bring you to your knees
and send you to your grave
I take joy in this fact
and regret it all the same
(gomer’s song, p.87)
Perhaps the pain and passion that Vowens alludes to are the conflicting feelings. Note, in the above poem, how powerful the stanza begins and it ends on a completely different tone.
What struck me the most about the collection was the power within the lines, such as:
Can lightning be caged?
I swallowed shadows for so long
that darkness became my home
Regarding Vowens’ poem fly, this is the opening line. The line is an incredibly complicated metaphor. Does it refer to heat, or light, or speed? Does it refer to the speaker breaking out of chains? I mean, personally, the thought of lightning is terrifying. But, isn’t standing/speaking up for yourself nerve-wracking? On the other hand, graffiti’s opening line, which is enjambed, creates this idea of degrading development over time, but the speaker is freed by another who drips “sunshine”.
What I disliked
One of Vowens’ poems is called moon gypsy. The term gypsy is an ethnic/racial slur and should not be used synonymously with those who wander/adventure/are free-spirited. The author definitely could have used another word.
The collection should have had a content warning of some kind, as for instance, I was shocked by a particular poem, her first dance, which concerns a scene of sexual violence. Moreover, the sexual imagery and language in the collection were a tad overwhelming to read after a while.
Why did I read it?
I love to support indie creators and I like to change up what kind of poetry I read.
Does the author have other works?
Ana Vowens has written a book called Drowning.
Do I recommend it?
I think the collection could do with some improvements in language, but I would still recommend it to those who enjoy erotic poetry entangled with dark poetry.
– Melissa Jennings