A Lens Without a Face by Maddisen Alexandra

A Lens Without a Face is the gorgeous poetry debut by indie writer Maddisen Alexandra.

Fun fact: it is also the very first poetry collection I’ve ever reviewed, which is ironic because I love poetry and recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of my own indie poetry book, Japayuki. To say I’m both honored and thrilled to have Alexandra’s collection of poems as my first review would be an understatement.

So, here we go!

A Lens Without a Face by Maddisen Alexandra on Story Darling

Summary of Maddisen Alexandra’s collection

From the back cover:

Reflection is the best medicine for soothing the pain life deals. To dance with the forgotten ideals society so selfishly disposed of means to be free. I have a colorless lens waiting for someone to see through…101 lenses to be exact. Each one craves exploration. Each one requires a personal narrative to breathe.

Alexandra’s work shines a light on serious issues—suicide, reflections of love, mental health—and she invites the reader to explore their own interpretation of each poem in the collection. In itself, these aren’t unique themes, and most writers want readers to arrive at their own meaning. What’s unique about the collection is how she presents these themes.

She describes A Lens Without a Face as each poem being a lens for the reader to look through and develop their own unique interpretation. As I read each poem, I was struck by what the entire work evoked visually. I’m not sure if this was intended or not, but the whole collection, stylistically, reminded me of an eye exam. No poem in the collection was more than a page long, none of them titled—only numbered, no end punctuation, and lines of poetry were kept narrow drawing the eye down. Like I said, an eye exam.

“Which one do you like better—number one or number two? Two, or three?” I found myself hopping around quite a bit back and forth, revisiting poems to see which ones spoke to me best.

Another touch I appreciated was the blank page behind every poem. She encourages readers to draw or write down their own thoughts and reactions to each piece. Again, this structure visually reminded me of the optometrist’s, where you look through each lens and then scrawl a prescription based on what you find. So, so clever.

Review: A Lens Without a Face by Maddisen Alexandra

This is a fantastic debut collection, and it’s one I’ll revisit time and time again. I’ve always heard that good poetry is both specific and general, and Alexandra’s work satisfies both. Her use of rich, descriptive language appeals to every sense, sometimes lyrical and rhyming, sometimes poignant prose, and I couldn’t help but wonder about some of the specific scenes she described.

Her work is deeply moving, and several poems resonated with me. Here are some favorites: Eleven, Fourteen, Forty-Seven, and Seventy.

From Fourteen:

Trails of pitter-patter
Trickle down the hall
Awaiting to be acknowledged
By some tender love

And from Forty-Seven:

Gravity keeps us grounded
When we ourselves cannot
For it has a profound awareness
Of the negligence we throw ourselves into

All in all, I gave A Lens Without a Face four stars on Goodreads and Amazon, and I encourage anyone to sample her collection. It’s one of those works that will draw further meaning each time you go back. I look forward to future books by this talented indie writer.

If you’re interested in seeing more indie reviews, here’s one I did on a collection of short stories, plus the fantasy novel Anomaly by KA Emmons. Happy reading.

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