When I read a poetry collection I always look for honesty. I search for the raw and brutal truth which comes with being beautifully human and complex. Only a few ever meet this expectation for me. Too often, poets try to be clever and value style over substance. Too often, contemporary poetry collections focus on following publication trends rather than being true to the poet. Thus, Snowdrop: A Collection by Olivia Snowdrop stands out in stunning beauty from the crowd.
Snowdrop’s structural choices reflect growth and change through the life cycle of a resilient, winter flower; the root, the bud and the bloom. On this journey, the reader encounters moments of change and stasis as Snowdrop does not shy away from reminding us the cycle will begin again. Instead of a linear journey from hurt to healing, there is trepidation, fear some things will never change whilst others will, and worry that pain can often feel never-ending. But there is also unconditional love and pride in this collection; Snowdrop celebrates it all and has subsequently created a myriad which is so perfectly imperfect and human.
‘The Root’ is incredibly nostalgic. Snowdrop wanders the halls of the past – its traumas and joys – and relinquishes herself to its grasp for a while. There is deep sorrow here as the speaker acknowledges childhood to be something sacred yet tarnished; ruined by heavy hands and cold, unfeeling love:
“The apples go on rotting
And fall too close to me.”
Yet, there is admirable strength in ‘Deconstruction of Denomination’ as the poet vows:
“I will not give the past my power.”
And so, time passes and Change wrings its ever-moving hands. In ‘The Bud’, Snowdrop’s poetry and prose is moving and full of an ache we all feel: a painful, heartbreak ache, a loving ache and the ache to speak when we have been taught silence.
“And even though I know
You keep it with a lock
In a box you never open
I was okay with being broken”
“No matter how much sky I conquer
It’s not enough to let you go.”
Finally, in ‘The Bloom’, Snowdrop captures the hope to heal but how much healing hurts too; how even without your power the past continues to encroach:
“I am the thunderous rain and I have torn open the sky.”
Throughout the life cycle, Snowdrop’s work is consistently evocative and quietly powerful. It’s this consistency which impressed me the most because it bears witness to immeasurable talent and to how Snowdrop has and continues to hone her craft. There is subtle dominance in her words; Snowdrop knows who she is, even in the turbulence. What made this particularly clear was the Afterword and I cannot help but echo:
“I think you’re magic and beautiful and brave.”
Snowdrop: A Collection is the most authentic, honest debut you could ask for. Enjoy it, because Olivia Snowdrop truly has created something special – something to be cherished.
Snowdrop: A Collection will be available from Thursday, 1st October 2020. You can follow Olivia Snowdrop on Instagram at @oliviasnowdrop.