Reviewer Lois C. Henderson: Lois is a freelance academic editor and back-of-book indexer, who spends most of her free time compiling word search puzzles for tourism and educative purposes. Her puzzles are available HERE and HERE Her Twitter account (@LoisCHenderson) mainly focusses on the toponymy of British place names. Please feel welcome to contact her with any feedback at LoisCourtenayHenderson@gmail.com.
Author: Kendal Finley Privette.
A Journal Of Recovery, in Free Verse Form
Author: Kendal Finley Privette.
Torn between the poignant dilemma of:
if I’ve lost, I’ve disappointed chris
if I’ve gained, I’ve disappointed ed
(“Damned”), Kendal Privette anguishes through her state of anorexia in this collection of tormented free verse, spanning three years. Though the book is dedicated to her husband, Chris, the text reveals an ongoing battle with ed (the persona assumed by her eating disorder). All her relationships and activities are disrupted by ed, who is a compelling force from whom she is unable to escape.
The poems and lines are short, fragmented, fractious and fractured, as is Kendal’s thinking. Robbed of her ability to appreciate her full self-worth as an educator, she is equally unable to savor the beauty of her surroundings. Each poem starts with a statement of her weight, which looms in omnipotent presence, as an ever-present menace.
Kendal is possessed by an inability to actualize herself fully as a woman, as, restrained by her illness, she is unable to allow herself to appreciate those activities in which other women delight. Visiting a mall (“The Mall”) merely serves only to remind her of her own inadequacies in relation to other women, whom she sees as her polar opposites:
There are young women.
I’m not young anymore.
There are old women.
I fear age.
However, such poems form only the first half of the book, which Kendal terms “Slipping”. The second half she calls “Freedom”. Reaching the nadir of her self-destruction in “Kiss of Death”, Kendal seeks help. Being diagnosed with anorexia, under medical guidance she is able to start responding to the encouragement of those who love her. But the journey back is painful…
When visiting a restaurant (“Applebee’s”) with her husband, she feels repelled by offerings specifically designed to set the average patron’s taste buds aquiver:
Grilled chicken drizzled with zesty lime sauce,
topped with Mexi-ranch and Jack-cheddar sauces,
served with crisp tortilla strips,
seasoned rice, and pico de gallo.
Looking around her at the other patrons, she sees that she is surrounded by obesity. However, even here Kendal’s ability actually to see those around her at all is an indication of the start of her recovery, marking a move away from the utter introspection of the first half of her journey to self-discovery.
Whereas before Kendal thought of herself as a total outsider, her gradual recovery from ED alerts her (in “Fitting In”) to the fact that
They are the happy people.
And I don’t even come close to fitting in.
She also starts to question her perceptions of others:
Are they really as pure as I think,
or have they searched for truth
and found it as hideous as I have found mine?
And so, she starts to perceive the truth and, once again, to assert balance in her own life.
This collection of poetry is riveting in its intensity, providing insight into the mind of one who has to penetrate the depths of her self-induced anguish in order to recover a full and balanced image of self. Full has the potential to give hope and to restore a sense of worth to all those impacted on by an eating disorder. In brief, it is a journal of recovery, written in free verse form.