Bear with me, because this is relevant. Those who know me well know I have an aversion to romance. I find phrases like “rippling muscle” and “love canal” gag-worthy and unattractive. If I read one more novel where two characters have “their eyes meet” and they don’t immediately try and kill each other afterward, I might stab a book. (Side note, I’m actually nice—or try to be. It’s been a long day.)
I know what you guys are thinking. But LeeAnn, we see you promoting romance novels on your Twitter all the time! Yes, observant friends, you do. That’s because there are great writers out there who write romance—a genre equal in awesomeness to all the others. I’m friends with quite a few romance writers. Some very kind ones let me join their writing group and I’m a better writer for it. I actually dig a lot of mentioned romance writers’ stuff.
The point is I’m not romantic, therefore I don’t like sappy writing. What I appreciate about Uhaul: A Collection of Lesbian Love Poems by Emily Ramser is that, while definitely romantic, it is also honest. These are the types of poems you write about your crush in your journal and then hide in your shoe box under your bed because they are soul-bearing and unpretending. These are poems of sheer adoration.
Ramser writes in plain language that the average reader can understand. For example, the poem “One Day, You Will Eat” begins with a humorous list of things that the person the speaker is referring to will not eat: “You don’t like mushrooms,/hamburgers, cinnamon, lettuce…”. However it ends with a nice sort of twist, with words that seem simple but actually will resonate with many readers.
There are two poems that leave me scratching my scalp. The poems seem odd editions to the collection. I am still at a loss after reading “The Day I Spoke With Your Gray Hair” and am frustrated with the somewhat successful but ultimately eyebrow raising, “I give you my body for your own.” They’re not bad, necessarily, just different and somewhat out of place.
As expected, Ramser brought back the birds in this collection with the poem,”I will sing to you.” It’s in this poem, arguably, that she writes her most memorable description: “how you hide your smile behind your thumb.” Again simple, but spot on, and ironically proceeded by how the speaker found it difficult to describe this action.
The poem I find most surprising is “I’d Steal You a Skillet”. This poem interested me—not because of the romantic elements, but because of this odd and fascinating tradition. I also got the sense that the speaker was as surprised as I was—not by the tradition but by the romantic elements.
The artwork for this collection is stunning. Sara Tolbert’s work adds another, beautiful layer of meaning to the poems. I was very impressed and kept gazing admiringly at the black-and-white drawings.
Overall the collection is interesting and honest—even if romance is not my favorite subject. What’s more, Ramser is an impressive person. She is an editor at many different publications with four published collections while still an undergraduate student at Salem College. She has a lot of things to write still. I’m curious to see what comes next.