Amanda Lovelace’s The Princess Saves Herself in This One is a personal, almost diary-like poetry collection, divided into four parts. Each focuses on different stages of her life, from her childhood with an abusive mother, her time with bad relationships and losing family members, her journey to learning how to love and stand up for herself, to giving advice to people—particularly women—who might be going through similar struggles.
If you look at the reviews for this, you’ll see this is a divisive collection. Most complaints have to do with how the poems are structured and whether or not that makes it “real poetry.” These complaints, while valid to an extent (I imagine that form could irritate some readers simply from a readability or aesthetic standpoint), kind of go against the idea of creative expression. There are many ways to write. Is there really only one correct way to express oneself? I don’t believe so. So I disagree with the people who declared this collection is not “real poetry,” because that sounds like they’re acting as gatekeepers for creative writing. But I’ll get off my soapbox.
This collection deals with tough subjects: eating disorders, negative self-image, sexual assault, grief, and emotional and physical abuse. Though the poems are sparse and minimal, the emotions are evident and the images vivid. Watching the speaker’s journey from feeling broken to feeling confident and proud of herself is nice to witness. She feels empowered by the end, despite everything, and makes some good statements on the importance of self-love. While some of the statements she makes are not new, or rather cliche at this point, the fact that she—after having been through so much—can say them with such unapologetic certainty is important. This collection has a lot of hope within it, particularly in the last section.
In the end, while this is not a perfect collection (even aside from the divisive reaction to it), it details one woman’s journey from bruised victim to scarred fighter. It’s minimal and stark, but not lacking in feeling. Lovelace strikes me as a young writer (I don’t know anything about her, other than she’s a millennial, as mentioned in one poem), so I’m sure her writing style with change and evolve with time. I think she’s one to watch.
Overall rating: 7.5/10