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Rivers in Your Skin, Sirens in Your Hair | Poetry Book Review

Genre: Poetry, Fantasy, Science fiction, Speculative, Queer, Politics

Pages: 118

Published by: Android Press

Published: 4 April, 2023

Available on Kobo and Barnes and Noble

Disclaimer: I was given a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Rivers in Your Skin, Sirens in your Hair by Marisca Pichette landed in my lap at just the right time. I have been looking to get more into poetry for over a year and its genres and themes―fantasy, politics, fairy tales, post-and-anti-colonialism, feminism, and queerness―are right up my alley. This poetry collection did not disappoint.

In fact, it did so much more. Explaining just how hard this collection hit me is difficult. It’s breathtaking and soul-crushing and mesmerizing and really hard to describe beyond the awe I felt.

Not to say that there weren’t any poems that just went over my head. Some poems such as She gathered up the dust I still enjoyed―especially the start where the title becomes part of the poem and isn’t that just so beautiful? But―I didn’t get it.

The Best Parts in Rivers in Your Skin, Sirens in Your Hair

This collection was overwhelmingly a hit.

In particular, I love the size of your fist where the flow is so pleasing to the ear.

From her fallenness I carved

the size of your fist, Page 7

There was also Nobyl which is a solarpunk poem whose strength and beauty make me want to dream! 

charybdis’ imagery was so vivid that I found it haunting yet striking.

Mothers become stepmothers in fairy tales had me rereading lines, basking in the truth of it and made me think about the role of motherhood in fairy tales and stories we tell in general.

Stay still

so the camera

can cut you out.

Mothers become stepmothers in fairy tales, Page 80

Though I was a bit sceptical at first, Coronation had me by the throat! I kept going back to it, days after reading it. It just filled me with awe, filled me with this restlessness.

The only way to rise: death.

Coronation, Page 110

necks break and

spires rise. the every king

is nothing

but

a hatstand,

a pillar of flesh

to support

the ever

crown.

Coronation, Page 110

Paper boats, the poem with the titular line, has some powerful imagery and a changing format that together worked so well to create meaning and rhythm and something as intense and vibrant as a motion picture.

What I Think of Marisca Pichette’s Poetry Writing

Pichette’s poems are by and large lyrical, narratively driven, and full of free verse. Some poems had some rhyming structures, but it wasn’t always evident to me. Regardless, when read aloud, they all had this dreamy, soft quality. Like a song. A terribly sad but necessary song. Many of these poems were quite dark in subject and tone―especially in the second part―but each had a wondrous richness to them. I know I have mentioned it before, but the imagery in this collection is truly out of this world!

My Rating?

While I think only 8 poems were complete knockouts, I think many more resonated with me. Still, some I simply did not understand. It took me a shamefully long time to realise how many of these poems are fairy tale retellings―truly embarrassing; I have written a few fairy tales retellings in both poem and short story form.

We all know the conventional Western fairy tales, but what happens when Cinderella passes on her shoes to her granddaughter? What’s the best recipe for Hansel and Gretel to cook the witch, or for Snow White to skin the Wolf? How did the horses feel when Phaeton drove them too high into the sky? And while we’ve heard plenty about witches in New England, what about their counterparts in the tropical south?

―Marisca Pichette

Once I realised what was happening, it became clear to me that some references I simply was not aware of and perhaps that is why some of the poems escaped me.

Before writing this review, I did check out other reviewers’ thoughts on these poems and found that with more context, I could appreciate more of them. That said, even that could not change the very high rating I had decided for this poetry collection.

9/10.

About the Author

Marisca Pichette is an award-winning author of speculative fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Her debut collection of speculative verse, Rivers in Your Skin, Sirens in your Hair, comes out in April 2023. They live in Western Massachusetts.

What’s your favourite poetry collection?

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