Lace Bone Beast: Poems & Other Fairytales for Wicked Girls by N.L. Shompole is one of the most profound and engrossing books of poetry that I have read since reading The Death Notebooks and Live or Die by Anne Sexton in college. I am constantly reminded of the Confessional Poets throughout Shompole’s book because her poetic style mimics those of Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath and Robert Lowell, although Shompole has her own distinctive style. The poems, prose poems called fairytales by Shompole and the meditations all are unusually haunting. Shompole uses various literary devices such as repetition, imagery that flows consistently throughout the series and metaphors that give cohesion from beginning to end of the book. Her themes include love, death, and survival, reminiscent of wisdom shared from one woman to another in life’s struggles.
One image that Shompole uses repeatedly in this collection is bones, an image that resonates with and has always fascinated me. So naturally, I was sucked into each and every poem, prose poem and meditation that involved it. Other images are birds, dreams, monsters and seasons. All of these create a cascade of stark emotions that feed the reader’s soul and touches one on deeper levels than you’d expect.
The theme of love in this collection is both romantic and tragic, revealing the beauty and monstrosity that love can bring into a person’s life. Death is used not only as an ending, but also as a beginning, the process of birth, life and death as natural progressions. And survival is a theme used not only as cautionary, but also as empowerment.
Shompole reminds the readers to hold onto their dreams, to be cautious with their heart, to protect their bodies and yet, to be softened by life’s tragedies, not to be hardened by them. Monsters are real, love can sting, and yet life is also like the changing seasons, sometimes harsh and sometimes a breath of fresh air.
Shompole opens the book with these words:
Here is emptiness. Here is a mouth after a recent excavation, black with soot, devoid of kisses. Here are hands, trembling against the soft ache of morning, here are eyes, wet, wide, half-full of sky and loneliness. Here is belly, back, femur, spine, ragged and smooth all at once, all at once. Here are dreams, ink black and speckled, lost behind the eyes. Here is a muted elegy, crow’s feet feathered over the eyes like lace. Here are the last strains of a dirge, wild, discordant, free. – The Lacemaker
And closes it with these:
everything that matters
comes slowly, the teeth
the bravery, the strength
– Meditations for the Soft-Hearted
Everything in between will leave you just as awed and breathless.
Lace Bone Beast is a beautiful collection of poetry, prose poetry and meditations that leaves me in awe. I’ve devoured it cover to cover twice since receiving a digital copy for review. I am so impressed that I had to own a book copy for my personal collection. I not only highly recommend this collection, I insist, that if you are a collector of poetry, this is one book you will definitely want in your collection.
Note: I was given a free copy of Lace Bone Beast for an honest review.
Rating: 5 stars
Genre(s): Abstract Poetry
To Purchase: Amazon