In The Circus Of You is the third book of poetry by Nicelle Davis, with art by Cheryl Gross. Almost every one of Davis’ poems – and there are over forty – is accompanied by a piece of artwork done by Gross to highlight the feeling the poem should leave the reader with. The poetry in Circus is beautifully scripted. Using both free verse and stylized formatting, Davis’ poems focus on familial matters, destructive relationships, and artistic expressions, all seen through fun house mirrors and circus sideshows. Filled with beautiful language and eerie artwork, In The Circus Of You is not to be missed by poetry lovers worldwide.
There are continuous reappearing metaphors throughout all of Davis’ poetry. On more than one occasion the topic of divorce, motherhood, depression, and being medicated is written of, and the audience is given imagery of pigeons, bones, clowns, mouths, and pigs more often than not. Each poem is a little story, usually with darker, deeper meanings. The idea of the poet being a monster, as well as everyone around her, is expressed time and time again, perhaps going hand-in-hand with the idea of a circus freak show. The artwork, serving as a diptych, illustrates how the reader should feel whilst experiencing each poem. The images are creepy, filled with teeth and bones, and when paired with each poem the reader intakes will raise hairs on the backs of necks.
The book falls into four parts. Part one is focused heavily on the crumpling end of the poet’s own marriage, while the second part ushers in the motif of the circus and brings in characters that may or may not represent real people or events. Part three equates clowns to being on medication for depression, and the fourth speaks of recovery and motherhood. Needless to say, the work found in the book is good; more solid poetry than this in the lit world is hard to find. Beautiful language that flows off the tongue is found on every page when read aloud. The poem “Dear Sir”, for example, compares depression to being a caged bird that wont stop singing. Davis writes for her readers, “Doctor says it will still be me – only [[me caged better]]. Excuse how [(I love)] my impulsive feathers.” The vocabulary, rhythm, and use of punctuation in this line is harrowing. Another example is this line in “Bought A Pack Of Cigarettes Today”: “There are places in the sky untouched by shine.” It’s such a simple sentence, but still manages to pack a punch.
While some of the poems found in In The Circus of You are more difficult to decipher, the entire book is well worth the read. There is something for everyone to relate to inside, and each poem will leave readers reeling and begging for more.
Julia Gaskill is a graduate of Southern Oregon University, with a double major in Creative Writing and Theatre Arts. Upon graduation, she spent a year abroad traveling throughout New Zealand. Now that she’s back in Portland, Julia hopes to expand her writing career. Outside of Portland Book Reviews, she’s a frequent writer for Tough Pigs (as well as Buzz Patrol and Cool Gizmo Toys in the past), performs her original pieces at the Portland Poetry Slam on a monthly basis, and maintains several of her own blogs. Her dream is to write novels, screenplays, and poetry on a more professional level. When not writing, Julia can be found ranting about Muppets, eating hamburgers, or walking neighborhood dogs. You can find out more about Julia at her primary blog, Geek Girl Grown Up, or follow her tumblr to read some of her poetry.
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