The Drama Student
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Intense, dramatic, theatrical – an important new poetry collection which draws its strength from its confrontation with grief and mourning.
As its title suggests, the poems in Autumn Royal’s The Drama Student explore theatrical responses to life. And in particular, the staging of the emotional life. The subject, a student of experience, and a writer with an uncertain future, feels her vulnerability and dependency. Grief is paramount among her emotional responses, provoked by hauntings of violence, the death of loved ones, the failure of relationships, the disappointment of her aspirations. The great fear: ‘I am threatened / with an exceptional ability and no means / of expression.’ The theatre provides those means, the expressive gestures, the subversion of typecast roles, the transformation of domestic objects into props for the performance of self, and the richness of language. Royal’s use of the elegiac form offers no answers, only the hope of tearing open conventional understandings of loss and insecurity, as it invokes a tradition of women poets and thinkers.