Marcelus’ Collection Promotes Self-Affirmation, Growth and Harmony
Cheyenne Marcelus’ 2018 collection, Good To Me, is exactly what it says it is. Its poems chronicle a development of self-acceptance and self-preservation as it states on the cover. While the poems and their message are not exactly cutting edge, Marcelus experiments with the visuals of her work. Writing primarily in free verse, her work has room to maneuver around the page but Marcelus doesn’t play with poem structure as such. She utilizes different fonts and font sizing to create tension or strike home a point.
This practice finds mixed success. Some of the pieces still read fluidly but unfortunately this artistic technique is taken too far on occasion and not only distracts from some poems but causes a bit of confusion, as is the case with “Opening The Space”. Her utilization of four different fonts across three pages almost deceives the reader, making them think a new poem has begun and the page containing the title is missing.
Now, this is not to say that every reader who comes across this book will share the same sentiments. Poetry is a subjective, fickle art after all, and Marcelus is bold to take these risks, but sometimes artistic experimentation has to be tempered just so in order for the message of the work to shine through.
Her poem “The Beautiful Parts” is one of the more traditional pieces, but it is by no means boring. It is a strong piece which encapsulates the mean theme of the collection. It sings praise to “…our distinctions…” and encourages readers to stamp down the “…fear that they are imperfections / When the very sight of them / Weakens our foes”. Though racist efforts have attempted for years to paint every other physical feature that doesn’t correspond with predominantly white, Euro-centric features as ugly or distasteful, Marcelus reminds her readers that “…our own variance / Balances the universe.”
Readers will then turn the page to find “Envy Is A Waste Of Time”. This is another clean cut piece which serves up a particularly lovely message. The speaker warns that too much time is wasted longing for the unavailability of someone else’s life. Humans are islands unto themselves, each unique and wondrous as the speaker recounts:
My own island was plush and colorful
My own fruit was sweet and nourishing
I shouldn’t have wanted for anybody’s
Deep caverns and unruly wilderness exist within everyone, but so much good comes from tending to one’s own island. Or as singer Kacey Musgraves puts it, “Mind your biscuits / and life will be gravy.” (The irony of the message is not lost on this poetry reviewer.)
Good To Me may not be a grounding breaking collection but it is important nonetheless. This work strengthens the cannon of inter-sectional feminist texts which encourage women to embrace their differences and their ability to firmly say, “No.” Marcelus’ poetry promotes introspection. “It is important to acknowledge the flaws in your character…” and “…fill them with growth and accountability”.
Good To Me, which is Marcelus’ debut collection, is available for purchase through your local bookstore or online.
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