Guess what, Book nerds??
🙌It’s officially April!!! 🙌 I know a lot of y’all have probably lost track of days during all of this social distancing, but we made it through the longest March to ever March!!
Obviously this is a serious and stressful time for our country — and the world — but I feel by celebrating the small things we’re able to tune out the negatives that fuel our collective anxieties. And today’s post is devoted to focusing on the positives.
For example, did you know that today marks the start of National Poetry Month? A pretty epic coincidence given that today is also the pub day for Violence/Joy/Chaos, Jane Marshall Fleming’s debut book of poems & essays! Now, more than ever, we need to lift up creators’ voices and celebrate all the hard work that got them to their big day! So join me in wishing Violence/Joy/Chaos a Happy Book Birthday, and then scroll down to check out my review and giveaway for a chance to win YOUR very own signed copy!
Violence/Joy/Chaos by Jane Marshall Fleming
Title & Author: Violence/Joy/Chaos by Jane Marshall Fleming
Release Date: April 1, 2020
Publisher: Rhythm & Bones Press
Series Details: Standalone
Page Count: 154 pages
This debut full-length hybrid collection of essays and poetry explores the moments of joy and chaotic hilarity that mingle with the experiences of trauma and trauma recovery.
Jane Marshall Fleming writes with boldness and shows the beauty in every moment amidst violent chaos, embracing joy just as much as darkness. Moving from a backdrop of a small Virginia town and eventually finding herself in the freedom and wilderness of the desert, readers will follow the author on her journey mapping her skin, sharing in her joys, grief, pain, loss, discovering love and self-growth, night-blooming like a desert flower.
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Thank you so much to Rhythm & Bones Press, LSBBT, and the author for providing me with an advanced ecopy in exchange for an honest review.
“…There is a thin line between love and hate. This collection is about that thin line.”
I didn’t know what to expect when I first picked up my copy of Violence/Joy/Chaos. If I’m being honest, I was lured in by the enchanting cover art created by the author’s brother, Jordan Aman. I was drawn to the dark chaos of the birds, while simultaneously being comforted by the calm woman underneath. She seemed at peace despite the avian turmoil, and I immediately wanted to know her story.
Told in a seemingly linear timeline, Violence/Joy/Chaos takes readers on a consuming journey spanning a decade of Fleming’s life. Shared through “true to life” essays and poems, Fleming’s “trauma turned art” outlines her rocky path to recovery. As stated in the preface of her debut collection, these stories are being offered to the reader as a means to take control of the past and reclaim the pieces of her that were lost along the way. And with that mission in mind, Fleming delicately bares her soul on the page for prying eyes to examine. She doesn’t hold back or shy away from extremely personal details of the events she’s survived over the past 10 years. All that she asks is that we be “gentle as we consume.”
“206 it says on the box, but I need it to be one. Solve me.”
My affections for this intoxicating collection of essays and poems grew as I consumed its pages. I was curious about the 16-year-old rage shredding poems that were discovered by her snooping mother. I was sad for the young college student assaulted after drinking too much because she “didn’t want to seem like a prude.” I was heartbroken for the woman called a monster by her boyfriend for taking a life-altering step pushed onto her by her parents and time. And I felt actual joy upon reading the final word of the mirrored poem featured at the beginning and end of this collection.
The themes and topics addressed in this book are universal and thus a perfect choice for the medium of poetry. And while I haven’t experienced many of the traumatic events our heroine faces, I can’t imagine how powerful these words could be if placed in the hands of a woman that needed to read them. Through Fleming’s personal and particular accounts, other anonymous women might get the strength they need to put the pieces of their puzzle together.
“Someone once told me trauma lives in the gaps — the things we cannot let slide out of our pink, fragile mouths.”
Although Fleming is open and honest throughout this book, I do find myself wondering about the gaps in the collection. I’d happily have forfeited some of the drug-induced romps in the woods for a clearer understanding of the timeline between meeting her husband and her stint in a psychiatric facility. Or clarity on her relationship with Dev and Michael over the mountain climbing scenes in El Paso. At the end of the day, I’m appreciative of the balance struck between humor (read: invading neighborhood cat) and sorrow (read: the poem about spirit births — I’m still emotional over this one) and think the reader will feel resolution by the end of this turbulent tale.
It’s hard to truly summarizes my experience with this book without spoiling the secrets revealed within its pages. There were scenes that made me feel seen, and passages that left me bewildered and concerned. But I think that’s the point: to feel the confusion and rush that coincides with love and trauma.
I know we’ve got a lot of time on our hands over the next few weeks, and if you can safely handle the topics (see trigger warnings below), than I recommend you start National Poetry Month with this haunting glimpse of the healing process.
All quotes were taken from an advanced copy of this collection and may not match final release.
Violence/Joy/Chaos trigger warnings: abuse, drug use and overdosing, sexual assault, rape (implied), violence, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, cutting, suicide, gun use, abortion, and death of a loved one.
Jane Marshall Fleming is an author and artist living in Austin, Texas. She currently works as an assistant instructor at the University of Texas at Austin and is also the author of the chapbook, Ocotillo Worship (Apep Publications, 2019). Violence/Joy/Chaos is her first full-length collection.
Win an autographed copy of Violence/Joy/Chaos
March 31 – April 10, 2020
VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
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|3/31/20||BONUS Post||Hall Ways Blog|
|4/2/20||Excerpt||All the Ups and Downs|
|4/3/20||Review||Librariel Book Adventures|
|4/4/20||Top Five List||That’s What She’s Reading|
|4/6/20||Review||Rainy Days with Amanda|
|4/7/20||Author Interview||Chapter Break Book Blog|
|4/8/20||Playlist||The Clueless Gent|
|4/9/20||Review||Reading by Moonlight|
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