As recounted by the Roman poet Ovid, a young nymph, Salmacis, one day spied Hermaphroditus bathing; consumed with passion, she entered the water and, begging the gods to allow them to stay together, the two became one – part man, part woman. An Eclectic Pagan, for Elizabeth Ovid’s fables are more than fiction, and form a framework for exploring identity.
Drawing on the rich mythological history associated with the tale of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus, and re-examining the tale through the lens of metaphor, Salmacis: Becoming Not Quite a Woman is a stirringly relatable and powerful exploration of gender, love and identity.
this is my lake salmacis, and i am the wild nymph
with a hollow in her belly and nothing between her legs
My thanks to Will at Renard Press for the invitation to be a part of this wonderful BlogTour for salmacis – becoming not quite a woman by elizabeth train-brown and for providing an ARC copy to read and review.
At 68 pages this volume of 25 poems is a beautifully presented intensely powerful and impassioned debut collection.
Elizabeth Train-Brown uses her knowledge and love of Ovid’s fables to explore gender, love and identity. Through Elizabeth’s poetry there are recurring thoughts of knives, paper swans, of not belonging, of not being seen or wanting to be seen, of only being seen/heard through another’s voice. Vivid and disturbing images abound seeking to find, to explain, to become, to be.
Of course, when reading poetry it’s subjective our own experience, beliefs, preconceptions, thoughts and feelings intermingle with the words and so what one person takes from a poem or collection of poems will differ in degree from another. Our reactions will differ because we are looking differently. Are one person’s thoughts better, more valid than another? Does the poet mind if what we take from their poetry is something else, something other?
Isn’t it that this volume delights in, fears, needs, wants difference; wants to understand difference, is different, is other as we all are, as we all do? In our seeking we see the similarities – the need for love and for acceptance, the need to give love and be accepting.
I’ve read this volume over several times and on each reading have gained a new ‘favourite’, been moved by a different poem, felt inadequate, felt the passion within this set of poems, smiled at times, had my breath taken away and loved every one of them.
Elizabeth Train-Brown is thought provoking, seeking to understand – being and shouting loudly about it. I hope that they continue to produce such engaging work.
I hope you decide to read salmacis – becoming not quite a woman and enjoy it as much as I have.
Along with the copy of salmacis from Renard Press came a book mark on which there is the following quote
‘Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’William Morris
This beautiful volume will remain in my home because it has brought me to the story of salmacis, from front cover to back with everything in between it is thought provoking, immersive and totally stunning.
Check out the other amazing blogs on the tour before using the link below to get your own copy of this exceptional debut collection.
Published: Renard Press – 31 August 2022 | Paperback | 68pp | ISBN: 9781913724894
Fancy your hand at making an origami swan? Instructions here.
Buy: Renard Press
Once you’ve read salmacis- becoming not quite a woman by elizabeth train-brown should you want to read further (believe me when I say there is a rabbit hole of items) you might find the following links of interest. Simply use as a starting point and just go off on your own incredible journey.
History Today: Hermaphroditus and Salmacis| The Salmakis Fountain by Signe Isager |The nymph Salmakis: Theoi Project ( Aaron J. Atsma) |Salmacis and Hermaphroditus – Francis Beaumont (Renaissance Edition). | SALMACIS AND HERMAPHRODITUS by: Ovid (43 BC-17 AD?) – Poetry Archive
Elizabeth Train-Brown is a poet and writer whose work has been published internationally in various anthologies and journals. Their journalism on discrimination, asexuality, transgender issues and polyamory has also received widespread recognition. Outside of writing, Elizabeth follows in her parents’ footsteps as a circus performer and fortune teller. Salmacis is their first collection.
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