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Book Review: Velvet Dragonflies by Billy Chapata
The title and description of the poetry collection, Velvet Dragonflies, drew me in, but when I first started reading, I wasn’t sure I would love it. The book opens with the word “flight” and the phrase “the path back to yourself will be unique”. The collection seemed like a self-help book written in verse with advice like “nostalgia will keep you renting space in toxic places”, “honesty is like cardio for the soul”, and “love for yourself can never arrive too late”. But, as I continued reading the poems, which are surrounded by large amounts of white space, I did realize that the book offers some beautiful words and worthwhile ideas.
The book is divided into sections labeled “viscose” (a solution used to manufacture rayon), “koigu” (a type of yarn), “damask” (a patterned fabric formed by weaving), and “charmeuse” (a lightweight fabric with satin weave). The content in each section seems to build and replicate rather than being distinct, and with this structure, the poet implies that a tapestry is being woven from ideas about self-love and forgiveness. The last section, called “landing”, brings closure to the opening “flight” and states that life has no order of events. This made me realize that the repetition in each section is purposeful, allowing the reader to flip back through the pages and read the small poems without worrying about narrative order.
The collection offers thoughts on how fear and ego can hold us back and on the importance of letting go of relationships that no longer serve us. The focus lies with courting self-love and appreciation through the healing of personal wounds and the acceptance of individual faults. The poems speak to the necessity of boundaries and propose some phrases that will stay with me such as “home is not a place, it’s a feeling”, “do not waste ink trying to rewrite someone’s narrative of you”, and “the universe reacts to your intentions, not to the opinions others have of you”.
Self-help books are not my favorite genre, but I did enjoy this interesting collection of poems and will certainly circle back to pages which spoke to me and helped me to see my life and the world through a new lens. Velvet Dragonflies is a beautiful read for those who enjoy innovative poetry and philosophical thinking.
You can purchase it here.
Thank you to NetGalley for a free copy of the book in exchange for a fair review.
Kelly Jarvis teaches classes in literature, writing, and fairy tale at Central Connecticut State University, The University of Connecticut, and Tunxis Community College. She lives, happily ever after, with her husband and three sons in a house filled with fairy tale books. She is also The Fairy Tale Magazine's special project’s writer.