Today dear reader I am reviewing Russian Doll (Published By Indigo Dreams Publishing 25 Mar. 2021) By Teika Marija Smits. A big thank you to the author for sending me a copy to read and review, always appreciated.
The poems of Russian Doll tell a story of metamorphosis and becoming. Charting the ever-shifting terrain of selfhood, they speak of the joys and challenges of being both daughter and mother; schoolgirl and middle-aged woman; and detail the many ways in which the stories of our lives are as multicoloured and multilayered as a Russian doll.
About the Author
Teika Marija Smits is a writer, freelance editor and mother-of-two. Her poems have been widely published. Teika was formerly the managing editor of Mother’s Milk Books and is now an Editor-at-Large at Valley Press alongside running The Book Stewards – a writers’ support site that she manages with her husband. In her spare moments she likes to doodle, draw and paint.
When we think of a Russian Doll we always picture those beautifully painted wooden dolls all standing in a line that fit neatly inside of each other. This book is exactly that, in poetry form.
There are two sections in this book, Daughter-doll Doll-daughter and Mother-doll Doll-mother. By splitting into two the reader can slowly collect the dolls from smallest to biggest. Smallest being the author’s childhood, Daughter-doll Doll-daughter while the biggest explores adulthood, Mother-doll Doll-mother.
I adore the metaphor that Smits has used of this delicate image of a Russian Doll. It is present throughout all the poems and is a strong, empowering symbol of learning and growth. It is a fascinating image, what may appear as one doll quickly becomes two and then three, getting smaller as you uncover the next one until you can go no farther and are left with a line of various sized Russian Dolls.
These poems are personal and all from the memories of the author. She shares with the reader her first memory in First memories with her escaping her cot and surprising her parents in bed. Smits’ poetry also shows growth and how her body was developing as she got older. In Ten Ton she gets her period. In Matryoshka she writes how she is an adult within a child, she is in the wrong sized body. She shows the confusion that we all face when placed in adult situations as a child. We feel as if we should be acting older but are still encased in our childlike bodies.
Smits shares with the reader the little things that made her happy during her childhood. I was drooling at the mouth as I read Mint Choc Chip, desperate for an ice cream. Bliss. Probably one of my favourite poems out of the collection dear reader as it took me back to my childhood.
As well as sparks of joy and happiness there are also poems with heartbreaking reality. In The Pulmonary Embolism Smits writes about the day the world stops as her father goes to the shops, falls and sadly dies. I was in tears, there was so much emotion that it broke me. These poems are real and extremely raw.
There is a strong theme of family in these poems as the reader not only reads about Smits’ family but they also learn about the family she creates when she is an adult. In Shades of Red, the reader learns how her mother was once an actress and knew how to make an entrance. She would arrive late to her school performances, calling her name and wave which made Smits embarrassed. She wished to turn into the smallest Russian doll. In the poem Changeling, Smits gives birth and becomes a mother. It goes full circle and is breathtaking to read.
I give Russian Doll By Teika Marija Smits a Four out of Five paw rating.
An emotional, colourful journey of growth and love. These poems will have you smiling, giggling and also weeping at the hardships we all face in life.
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