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Review: From Dirt to Gold: A Journey Through Darkness to Light by Tristesse Genevieve

Publication date: 10/30/2012
Pages: 66

In From Dirt to Gold, poet Tristesse Genevieve recounts her journey from the depths of a weighty depression, to finding a love that ultimately brings her out of her own personal hell, saving her sanity in the process.

Genevieve infuses her poems with so much sorrow that it at times physically weighs the reader down. It’s unclear whether or not this is intentional, but the effect is just the same. In “Quietly Loud”, her line, “I slipped on a thought/And broke my concentration” rings true for all of us, and the wording is admirable—thoughts, especially the darker sort, are incredibly slick creatures. Her poem, “Take Me Down” is one of her best, rhythmically speaking, with the line “Take me down to suicide”. It is a clear cry for help, and her words drum up a beat of hopelessness. She also has vivid moments of lyricism throughout her poetry. In “Kiss the Shadows”, she says to her lover, “I can’t reach the moonlight on your face”. It is a striking line, and one that details both their intimacy, and something more cosmic, more literary. In “Love and Lies” she goes for a more modern approach, saying, “My heart is not a toy/To be handled by a little boy”. Her anger is clear and sharp, and it’s a refreshing change from the gloom

The poet allows herself to mull over her problems at times, which seems a little self-satisfying. There is frequent talk of “demons”, and while this is an apt description for mental illness or depression, it should be used lightly. Her constant focus on gloom, and her “tell all” way of writing works and doesn’t work. It’s refreshing for a poet to show all of her cards to the reader, but up to a point. Reigning in the candid commentary might suit some of her poetry better, enabling her to find other ways—and words—to describe her pain.

Her most lengthy poem, “Lovers Lost At Sea”, which she describes as a short story in verse form, laments, “They will glow bright through/Our rib cages, almost as a lantern”. This is absolutely gorgeous imagery, and something I hope this poet will work towards more. The idea is fantastic and otherworldly, which suits her dark-tinted poetry incredibly well.

This was a satisfactory debut collection from a poet with a mass of feeling and verve. 

Reviewed by MB Sellers

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