Book Review: Magic With Skin On by Morgan Nikola-Wren

Magic with Skin OnMagic with Skin On by Morgan Nikola-Wren

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The cover drew me in first. How could it not? Once I opened the book I was quickly drawn in to the words Morgan Nikola-Wren created. Not just the words, but the world. As a reader, I loved it. As a writer (and poet) I was humbled. The word choices throughout are strong, beautiful, gut-punching. There’s strong imagery and metaphors in some, but it’s really the way the words are put together that create such beauty.
The poems are told in in Acts (7, to be exact), and there’s prose in between, so that it reads like a story, which I loved. The poems center around a relationship (somewhat toxic or damaging) and move forward through heartbreak, pain, and then healing. Themes of love—passionate and unrequited—are strung throughout, and there are several poems that touch on words/voice/power. I related to so much to it, I had to take a step back and breathe.
Sadly—or shamefully—I do not use bookmarks, and so I have a habit of dog-earring (?) pages that speak to me. I have over 20 pages of this book bent at the corners, I loved the poems on them so much. In fact, I plan to get a tattoo of one of them. Which one remains to be seen. But still, wow. Two of my favorites:
IX.
it’s nights like this, when
your grief goes smashing
into the walls that i think of
those moments that curled your hand
so sea-shell perfectly into mine
my memory skips
at the velvet shock of your skin
and i wonder
how i ever managed to fit
so much rage into my fists

and
XIII.

the next time you come at me,
with charm in your eyes
and a throat full of
“would never hurt you,”
i’ll remember that i’m just
a mistake your memory
couldn’t carry, and you’re
just an apology i’ll never
hear the air explode into,
a double-joined voice
and a snake oil smile—
so, scrub your shadow
from my front door
don’t sell me
a knock-off
love i don’t need

My only wish is that the poems had named titles instead of Roman numerals. I don’t even KNOW what those numbers are, ha, and it would be nice to put a title to each poem so I could say my favorites instead of “on page whatever”.
Gorgeous book of poetry, and a talented poetess. 5 stars. I hope to be this good someday.
If you love poetry that is rich, sensual, and powerful, get yourself this book. I’m already gleefully awaiting her next.

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