In this poetry collection, Trista Mateer explores heartbreak, love, loss, and walking away. Honeybee is a memoir in verse, collecting snapshots from a time of ripples in one poet’s life.
I really liked the style of Mateer’s poetry, and I think that for that reason, Honeybee and I resonated fairly well together.
The topic of heartbreak has been one that poets have written about for centuries, but Mateer’s situation was entirely unique, because she was the one who walked away. This book explores how her own experience with leaving still affected the heartbreak that both sides of the relationship experienced, and I think it’s a side I don’t often read about in poetry, because normally the one who is left is the one who writes the sad poems.
I feel like I wasn’t in quite the emotional state to connect to anything truly (probably didn’t help I read like 75% of this in the doctors’ waiting room), but I did feel it. Mateer pours her whole heart into these poems about her ex and I think that for her, it was probably a really cathartic exercise to do.
A lot of time was really spent writing about her ex, though, and it was quite overwhelming. Obviously a poet should be separated from their poetry in terms of autobiographicalness unless they say it’s an autobiography, but some of what Mateer said surprised me. Even though she was in a new relationship (both sides of the couple), Mateer was still writing very emotive poetry which, if I were reading it as this girl, I would find it a little…. close? maybe? is that the right word? Whichever word, I hope you get the gist – even after one year, two years, Mateer still seemed to be pining for this girl despite being in a new relationship.
I kind of get it, I do, having gone through a difficult break up a year and a half or so ago, but I don’t think I could write this type of poetry about that person now. I miss them sometimes, yes, but I think to write this deeply about them… that’s a whole other level, and despite the fact I was thoroughly enjoying the beautiful phrases Mateer strung together, I was still slightly reserved from the poems, trying to remove myself from how I was feeling at the back of my head the entire time.
Honeybee is a poem about breakup, but not all breakups. Whilst I didn’t -connect-, I could feel the pain that was poured into these poems. From a stylistic point of view, these poems were 100% my cup of tea. I loved Mateer’s writing style, and will definitely be looking to read more of her books in the future. I especially enjoyed how the titles of the poems seemed to almost be another line. Mateer didn’t put a word down without a reason for doing it.
Overall, I think that this was a book Mateer needed to write, but not necessarily one I felt needed to be published. I think that her writing is, honestly, stunning and engrossing, but I felt a little uncomfortable reading it, as I was looking at it from both perspectives: Mateer’s, and the person she left. It’s unfortunate that I had this ticking voice in the back of my mind, otherwise I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more. However, I still gave this book a fairly good rating, because I feel like the writing truly deserves it.
Personal source: sent as an eARC from NetGalley. As always, opinions are entirely my own.
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