Review: Spirit by Helle Gade

cover of SpiritSpirit by Helle Gade
Butterdragons Publishing (May 10, 2022)
94 pages; $14.99 hardcover; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Joshua Gage

Helle Gade lives in Denmark. She is a book blogger, poet, photographer, nocturnal creature, avid reader and chocolate addict. She has been writing poetry since 2011 and published four poetry collections since then. She has been fortunate to work with a bunch of brilliant authors and photographers on The Mind’s Eye series. Her book Nocturnal Embers won the Best Poetry Collection with eFestival of Words. Her newest collection is Spirit, a series of dark and painful poems about feeling lost.

Gade’s poetry taps into some dark themes, striking back at those who would threaten or oppress their speaker. For example, the poem “Sin” reads

I am not a sin that
You can contain within
I am out there
For all to see
A painful reminder
Of things best forgotten

While there is a sense of pain in the alienation experienced in these poems, there’s a resilience, as well. Gade’s speakers tend to lash out with their words and celebrate their uniqueness. 

Gade also taps into some darker horror imagery in her poems to drive forward the painful feelings. For example, the poem “Child of the Abyss” begins

Demons in the flames
Licking my heart
With fiery tongues
Demanding my surrender

Images like these use various horror tropes to create a tone for the reader that’s at once rebellious and painful, tying into the themes of Gade’s other poems. 

Clearly, as exampled above, Gade writes from an enthusiastic emotional point, but her craft leaves a lot to be desired. The poems in this collection struggle with basic craft issues and presentation. They are all formatted with center justification and capital letters beginning each line, which is an outdated format that most poets and editors eschew. The poems themselves suffer from vague and abstract images or clichés, and do very little that’s unique or innovative with the forms.

Overall, Spirit by Helle Gade is one of those collections that only enthusiasts will want to pursue. Fans of horror might like some of the images or tropes, but horror poetry fans will be left wanting. 

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