Splinters Are Children of Wood is Chaotic and Intimate | Review: Splinters Are Children of Wood by Leia Penina Wilson

10:13 PM

Good poetry is something you feel throughout your entire body and Splinters Are Children of Wood is one collection that demands to be felt.


The wildly unrestrained poems in Splinters Are Children of Wood, Leia Penina Wilson's second collection and winner of the Ernest Sandeen Prize in Poetry, pose an increasingly desperate question about what it means to be a girl, the ways girls are shaped by the world, as well as the role myth plays in this coming of age quest. Wilson, an afakasi Samoan poet, divides the book into three sections, linking the poems in each section by titles. In this way the poems act as a continuous song, an ode, or a lament revivifying a narrative that refuses to adopt a storyline.

Samoan myths and Western stories punctuate this volume in a search to reconcile identity and education. The lyrical declaration is at once an admiration of love and self-loathing. She kills herself. Resurrects herself. Kills herself again. She is also killed by the world. Resurrected. Killed again. These poems map displacement, discontent, and an increasing suspicion of the world itself, or the ways people learn the world. Drawing on the work of Bhanu Kapil, Anne Waldman, Alice Notley, and Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Wilson's poems reveal familiarity and strangeness, invocation and accusation. Both ritual and ruination, the poems return again and again to desire, myth, the sacred, and body.

Splinters Are Children of Wood by Leia Penina Wilson 
Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

As always, a copy of this book was provided by the publisher or author in exchange for my honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way.

What I love about poetry most is seeing how differing everyone's prose, and thought process, and way of expression, really is. This isn't something we don't know, when picking up art, but it's something that becomes apparent within seconds of picking up someone new.

From the more classical forms of such, to the more modern releases--everything sets itself apart in many different ways. In the case of Splinters Are Children of Wood it is hard-hitting and intimate; a little subtle, a little chaotic, and a whole lot compelling. It is not unlike nature itself and, like the synopsis says, it is wildly unrestrained. Splinters Are Children of Wood stands out amongst its contemporaries with a sleek and unique focus. Once you settle into it, you're not going to move for the remainder of the day.

Leia Penina Wilson's confident movement in her words is incomparable. Reviewing poetry is always difficult because there is so much to say--but so little we can say that isn't in the very collection we're considering. Taking on this task without spoiling it is not easy and I firmly believe that reading poetry speaks for itself. Often, the best we can do in reviews, without giving the world away, is say, " This was fantastic. "

It never quite does it justice, but it sparks something.

Let's talk briefly about the basics, then. As with all good poetry, Splinters Are Children of Wood is intimate and deeply engrossing. The poems that are featured in this collection are the sort that make you nod your head in confirmation or send you spiraling into thoughts of your own. It is real. It is unique. It is honest and raw and breathtaking.

As far as coming of age tales and woes go, this is one of the best collections of the year. While I did not always vibe with certain poems--or connect with them--there is this brutal honesty to each of them that grips the reader and echoes in their mind for the rest of the day. Any woman who picks this collection up will feel an array of feelings, whether or not they find themselves connecting with Leia Penina Wilson's prose.

If you are reading only a handful of poetry collections this year, add Splinters Are Children of Wood to the top of your list. Let Leia Penina Wilson speak to you--and listen.

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