Artemis Made Me Do It by Trista Mateer
Central Avenue Publishing (September 6, 2022)
184 pages; $16.99 paperback
Reviewed by Joshua Gage
Trista Mateer is the award-winning and bestselling author of multiple poetry collections, including the feminist greek mythology retelling, Aphrodite Made Me Do It. Mateer is a passionate mental health advocate, currently writing in South Carolina. Her newest collection is titled Artemis Made Me Do It.
Artemis Made Me Do It is an experimental book of fiction, poetry, and graphic hybrid pieces. Visually, this is an intriguing and exciting book. Mateer uses her language to synthesize tarot cards, Ancient Greek mythology, and contemporary feminism into one surreal and political mind trip for the reader, but does it evocatively and effectively. The poems themselves are rich with mythic allusion and classical imagery, but often shift abruptly to modern ideas and images, creating a strong juxtaposition between the two realms that’s very striking.
What makes this book so intriguing is the way that Mateer takes modern socio-political issues, both intimate and personal as well as global and timeless, and synthesizes them with dark and mythic imagery in a way that catches readers off guard. While classical allusions are nothing new in poetry, the way Mateer tackles these subjects, embodying the divine feminine with lyrical skill while confronting modern issues, is unique. For example, one untitled prose piece reads:
After our long hunts across the mountains, the nymphs and I would retire to a
secret grove deep in the forest. We used to laze about naked in the hot spring,
enjoying each other’s company, kissing and laughing and singing.
But women are never allowed safety for long. There is always another grasping
hand. Another hungry mouth. Another prying eye.
Actaeon, out with his dogs, was not the first to hunt me.
This is the sort of work that Mateer delves into. The modern horrors of violence and terror faced by women are explored through the imagery and symbolism of classical Greek myth, creating this sense of timelessness that permeates the book and saturates the reader with dread.
Overall, Artemis Made Me Do It is a very poignant book. It’s a hybrid of prose, poetry, and visual art that amalgamates tarot imagery, classic myth, and modern social issues into one nightmarish experience. Fans of horror poetry will certainly be intrigued by this book, and while the style may not appeal to everyone, those willing to take a chance on the hybrid and experimental will certainly be rewarded.