She/Her/Hers – Book Review

Amy Lauren’s She/Her/Hers is a celebration of what happens when we build something out of all the things other people have told us don’t go together. Rural, queer, and unapologetic–exactly the kind of narrative the South needs to keep telling.

“Others hungered
for her to wish herself
into dust, to forget
her own hunger”
.                             from “Sapphic”

From the first poem until the last, powerful images of hunger weave their way throughout the collection. Her words skillfully deliver a palpable desire for fulfillment–fulfillment that family members, friends, and neighbors often try to thwart. This hunger builds throughout every poem: hunger for understanding, hunger for companionship, hunger for faith, hunger for the ability to construct her own self with her own two hands.

“Just two girls with deer and
butterflies somewhere nearby,
river susurrating dawn hymns,

and god, everywhere. god.

no difference between churches
and rivers at sunrise.”
.                             from “Morning Prayer”

Indeed, these poems feel like “god, everywhere.” In her descriptions of her wife, of nature, and in the way she speaks about church–she writes with such a faith, a faith so her own, that it doesn’t need a building to hold it.

“I don’t really know if I could kill anyone

but if someone’s got to stain this gravel red it won’t be her”
.                            from “Swamp Femmes”

The power in Lauren’s writing–the way she uses her words to show this level of protection–it is nothing short of stunning. So many of the poems focus on what she is building in her life and then here we get the satisfaction of seeing her protect it. What she has built of herself and of her relationships, she is more than ready to defend. “Swamp Femmes” does an especially excellent job of bringing together so many aspects of rural lesbianism–a true joy to witness.

.        living your dreams,
fear for yourself

.       wholeness in yourself
and why a girl

.       and how this woman
has made you blush.

.       blossomed you.”
 .                            from “Budding”

In the final poem of the collection, “Budding,” Lauren displays an absolutely stunning back and forth image of the girl she was and the woman she’s become. From her first blush and the fear that accompanied it, to the normalcy of her wife setting her glasses on the nightstand. From hidden in the flowers to basking in moonlight: the piece perfectly concludes a well-structured, fantastically built narrative of a woman blossoming.

Available now from Headmistress Press

Reviewed by Alesha Dawson