Samantha Kolber's Birth of a Daughter  

Samantha Kolber's poetry collection "Birth of a Daughter" defies expectations. Speaking as someone who does not have any children and is surrounded by people asking why she doesn't want any children, I expected something completely different.

 

 Yes, there are beautiful moments, but she does not sugar coat the painful process/ miracle of birth. She is breathtakingly raw, honest, and humorous all at the same time. Her use of white space throughout the collection is symbolic of how labor and raising a child can be full of chaos. It also reflects how uncertain and, quite frankly, scary the whole thing can be. Through beautiful imagery, jaw-dropping figurative language, and wild and wonderful diction choices, she not only shows you the beauty of giving birth, but she does not skip over the portions that your relatives just so happened to leave out when trying to talk you into it. She takes you through the morning sickness that does not live up to its title/designated time of day. She takes you through the frustration, pain, and sexual isolation that comes with trying to grow a little person in your uterus. This, in my mind, makes it the most honest and excellent collection of poems dealing with themes of childbirth and childrearing. She has a wonderfully unexpected sense of dark humor.

 

 After the poem that signifies the birth of her daughter, the book then takes you through symbolic moments that are pure joy and pure exhaustion of raising this exceptional little lady. There are also moments of reflection when it comes to mothers that have proceeded her that are both beautiful and heartbreaking. It is a lovely collection. Her beautiful and painfully raw truth is something you have to see for yourself. I highly recommend this collection. Also, don't be surprised if you find yourself calling your mother after reading it and thanking her wholeheartedly for going through this process.

Jeff Vandermeer's Annihilation

I know this is taboo in the literary community, but I first saw the movie version of this novel. This faux pas was because I had no idea this fantastic series existed, and it was entirely by accident that I discovered the first book of this trilogy. I loved the concept that the film presented. This idea of being invaded, but not to the point of our destruction, but to a new level of annihilation that involves absorption and a strange/ beautiful kind of evolution. So, like any sci-fi geek, I went in search of merch. I found a shirt on Red Bubble depicting the all-female expedition team entering into what the movie calls "The Shimmer." Then, lo and behold, I kept finding links to Amazon, which led to a near orgasmic revelation that this was a book first. I ordered the first book, which shares the same title as the movie. And from that point on, I was immersed and what Vandermeer referred to as Area X. (Although, here's another naughty confession… I like the name "The Shimmer" due to the symbolic visual it creates with the idea of hypnotic trances and all the beautiful light references in the text itself. )   

 

Four female characters (a manipulative psychologist/hypnotist, an anthropologist, a surveyor, and our protagonist, the biologist) are dispatched into this quarantined area in an intense state of hypnosis, making the slow reveal of the surreal Giger-esque flora and fauna even more terrifying. And just another reason why I may or may not be avoiding finding a new psychologist. I love the idea that such a strange place could exist in Florida for so long without anyone else in the world questioning it outside of it just being taped off as the site of environmental disaster/ industrial oopsie. As a Florida resident, sometimes I feel like I live in Area X and the people and the animals are fascinating and occasionally frightening alien-made amalgamations and doppelgangers. I suspect my DNA has become genetically modified with Vandermeer's philosophy writing lichen and a splash of lazy iguana. I know it is an invasive species, but I wasn't born down here, so I feel it makes sense. 

 

I have already ordered the second book, Authority, and when it arrives, to quote one badass biologist, "don't follow me," I will be tucked away in my reading chair, and "I am not returning home." Send snacks! 

 

Final Thoughts and Looking Forward.

 

It's time to see exactly what's happening at the mysterious Southern Reach Corporation or the ones "in charge" of this weird slice of SoFlo, which I suspect may be a subsidiary of the devious Umbrella Corporation. The logos sure look similar.