After reading Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey and feeling all the raw emotion she so skillfully conveys in her poems, I said to myself, “I will never experience that level of emotion in a book of poetry ever again.”
I now stand before you utterly and entirely corrected, as Cassie Pruyn has done that very thing in her collection of poetry, Lena Pruyn brings new meaning and understanding to the elegy, asking not only why we grieve and why we love, but how these experiences have changed us; how the people we love and grieve for have changed us. She skillfully tells a story of love, heartbreak, and loss in one collection of poems. To me, the speaker of each of the poems in this collection is the same woman. The series of poems follows a non-linear timeline, often seeming like the speaker is reliving old memories she made with Lena as she walks in the present time through New Orleans, Louisiana. As she visits various solitary places in New Orleans, like St. Louis Cemetery and Royal Street and the river, and visits in her memory places in New England where she lived in college and where she met Lena, the speaker illustrates these memories and the deep and sometimes conflicting emotions they evoke. I felt her passion and her love for Lena, as well as her pain when she and Lena parted ways. I was often overcome with emotion and felt the urge to hug the speaker and tell her everything was going to be okay.
This one tops my list of best poetry collections I have read to date; perhaps, I daresay, even higher than Milk and Honey.