By Harley Vaughn
New Degree Press
Book reviewed by Kavita Khajuria
“I am fire and rage and white knuckles…”
Following initial tributes honoring various aspects of the self, Vaughn shares aspects of her life journey in poetry and prose – encompassing ‘love, loss, battles, and recovery’. Themes also include self-worth, self injury, suicidality, sexual assault, an eating disorder, and the pursuit of recovery.
The delights of love entail anticipatory nostalgia and comforting friendship. Emotional addiction ensues with obsessions, reminiscences of love lost and coping mechanisms. Prose circulates around themes of need and worth here. Once into ‘battle’, the reader hears of abuse, sexual assault and the questioning of identity. Tones resonate with defiance and stifled anger. One hears of need, loss, boundary violations, suicidal fantasies and hopelessness – with the other as holding significant power. Depressive states express painful anguish and a need for understanding. Recovery eventually follows with emerging self-love, insights and self acceptance. A list of helpful hotlines are shared at the end. Vaughn offers empathy and validation, encouraging ownership and agency. Her candid ability to express uncensored thoughts and emotions invite a deeper human connection and encourages others to know they are not alone.