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Once Upon A Time 2014-01-01

Chapbook by Amy Huffman & April Salzano

  1. Michael Ashley
    Great little publication.

Recent Reviews

  1. Andrew Geary
    Andrew Geary
    Version: 2014-01-01
    The individual poems themselves are not very good but they're clearly meant to be taken as sections of a greater story: the speaker's moving through the stages of a relationship.

    They all follow the same pattern, all beginning with "I hate you like (insert titular object)". This means that reading this in one sitting gets repetitive quickly and I think it would have been beneficial to have cut some of the poems, especially those lacking good images and ideas.

    The opener "Once upon a time" introduces the reader to the ideas that the book is built upon. The poem uses stilted, feminist-studies vocabulary until the final line when the speaker reveals that he (though I use "he" as gender-neutral I'm guessing most would imagine the speaker as female) is still searching to be in a fairy tale, or at least trying to find the romantic items present in fantasies. This reveals the main theme of this book which is self-hatred. While all of the poems begin targeting hatred toward whomever the speaker is referring to, the reader has no idea who the subject really is. Instead, we are presented with the feelings of the speaker.

    One wonders why the speaker persists in such a relationship when he/she is clearly dissatisfied. Perhaps the speaker feels that there is no other choice? But the most probable answer is that the speaker is still hoping for romantic fantasies to be fulfilled. The opening poem clearly shows that the speaker is aware that such fantasies are unrealistic and confine women to certain roles. This is why a good number of the poems seem to end with the revelation that the speaker doesn't like his/her partner because the partner doesn't satisfy a fantasy. The book reminds me of the Paula Cole song "Where have all the cowboys gone" but instead the speaker here seems to be aware of her unrealistic expectations.

    Individually the poems are trite and often banal, though there are some decent lines scattered about. But the main thing is that the series of poem offer a psychological portrait of someone who, in their hatred of his/her partner reveals far more about himself. I wasn't originally going to rate this higher than 2 stars but I think the "big idea" that ties the poems together and justifies them allows me to give this a higher rating. Then again nobody is probably going to read this review so who gives a shit?
    1. Michael Ashley
      Author's Response
      Haha, I read it Andrew and found it useful and insightful. Thank you!