Review by Ejiro Edward

Lana McDonagh‘s debut collection, Hope is a Silhouette, brings one word to mind and the word that comes to mind is awe-inspiring! The poet who is an artist and also a music composer has her pieces featured in films across the globe. Her brilliance exudes in the pages as she intertwines art illustrations and poetry to engage the mind of the reader. The staggering effect of graphics and words linger in one’s mind, one can’t help but feel it in their tongue as they flip through the pages. One finds themselves trying to determine if they are more drawn to the art illustrations or the rhythmic flow of poetry but one thing is sure, hope is a silhouette is brilliant.

Rooted in the theme of love, passion, sex, inner demons and eternity, Mcdonagh maneuvers the feelings that flows through her, using language in a manner that exudes finesse. The art  illustrations displayed within each page tends to interpret it as a visual representation of the poem but also the illustrations, which come with their own title, helps in the deciphering of the art work in their own individuality. The illustrations which vary from the embrace of lovers to the depiction of depression, to longing are quite engaging. Some of the illustrations are so vivid, one can almost touch them on the screen. 

In some of the poems, we see the author pouring out her heart as she combats her demons which come in the form of depression. We see this in lines from the poem ‘Blue under blue skies’(pg6) “ they painted the sky into the ceiling/ as if the weather would help your mood/ but you are blue under blue skies”. There is a clear imagery of the person’s low spirit which is reflected in the color blue. We can clearly see before the poem that there is an illustration which is titled after the poem. The illustration tends to evoke the need to allow joy and happiness into one’s life especially at their lowest point. The language is largely influenced by the British standard. We see Mcdonagh employing Shakespeare into use. We find this in the way she opens some of her poems in lines like “Not your lips/feather light and dewy/ little forget you kisses/ from the poem, ‘forget-you kisses’(pg8). She also employs the narrative technique in some of her poems, one of the most heart rendering pieces which invokes passion is found in  the poem, “The  lock-in”(pg4). The poem begins by saying;

                                       “There was Paris 


                                        All I cared about 

                                       was that his tongue 

                                       was in my mouth and that he loved me”,

The poem goes further to say; 

                                           “Seeding stories of all the great things we might do with our lives 

                                             If we could just make it out, from underneath this sheet”.

With Mcdonagh moving between love, regret and the theme of eternity, she creates a collection that is distinctly unique. The collection which  moves like the waves of the ocean, carries us through intimacy and makes us see the reality of what relationships are and how a love that has been tasted, survives through time. Some of  the art pieces which sometimes come in their own individuality contradicts the title it is bestowed. Looking at “the happy couple” (pg)) the couples do not exactly depict the picture of happiness and while in the poem “Goosebump braille” it  serves as a reinforcement to the art piece.

The collection brings the individual/ readers into a reflective state of mind, in which they examine love’s intensity.  The language is impressive, simple and moves between the contemporary and Shakespearean era . The pictures leave a lasting memory for the readers to muse on after weeks. Hope is a silhouette is one of those rare collections that brings the reader into their emotions while leaving them in awe of the writer.


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