First, let’s get something straight. I am a feminist. I’ve read Bell Hooks and I have handed out enough copies of We Should All Be Feminists to buy Chimamanda Ngozi at least a nice little trip. I teach my four-year-old son that boys and girls are equal. When someone argues that feminism is irrelevant or based on a man-hating female group, I am the first to come to the defence of feminism. Furthermore, I think that the #MeToo movement is extremely important, as is the ability for women who are survivors of assault and rape to be able to speak up, be angry and be heard.
However, Amanda Lovelace’s poems in the witch doesn’t burn in this one fell flat on me. I do think that Lovelace is saying important things, but I felt at times that they were ideas that have already been expressed in other narratives. I grew up in the 80’s reading stories about girls who rescue themselves, like The Paper Bag Princess , Princess Smarty Pants and Tamora Pierce’s many stories about lady knights. I read Gregory Maguire’s Wicked and felt suitably bad for the witch who in recent years has found a place in feminist discourse. (My favourite representation of a feminist discourse situated around witches is Amy McKay’s The Witches of New York). Perhaps I was not the intended target.
Keep in mind that I have no desire to denigrate the empowerment of others, but I’m going to be a little bit honest here. While trying to engage with the spirit of Lovelace’s narrative, I decided to write out my review in the poetic style found within the pages of the book:
my mind was not
by this book.
sadly, my heart did not ignite
with feminist fury.
these are lines
that i have already read.
(maybe i am just one of the lucky ones)
an important message?
i am sure
from a genuine place.
an engaging, original narrative structure?
—sorry, amanda lovelace.