My Puppet Master
by Olivia Brighten

"I need you, I breathe you, I got to have you in some way. My compulsion for you is eating me alive."

In an attempt to eliminate the stigma around mental health, Brighten delivers a heartbreaking yet raw and stirring collection of poems that depict just how addiction gradually makes the individual bereft of personality and life. As the speaker, Liz Dunmire, journeys through addiction, the audience will be inspired by the authenticity of her words and, ultimately, the message she is trying to convey to those who have suffered from addiction.

The opening poem, “You Had Me at Hello,” is nothing short of an ode to the honeymoon phase of addiction, a reprieve from reality. Throughout, addiction wears many disguises, sometimes a thief and sometimes a faithful lover. In “Where Are You, Liz?” the speaker has lost everything—her children, her home, everything—and in a bout of frustration and self-awareness, she acknowledges that “I dig my own grave as I let you back in.”

Brighten holds nothing back, demonstrating just how deep the void of despair can get if addiction takes control. Nearly every poem is a must read. However, poems that stand out, in particular, are “Six Feet Under” where the speaker is pleading for her drugs with ferocious intensity and “My Devil in Disguise” in which the reader expresses her own being as a personal prison. As the speaker’s roller coaster addiction journey progresses, it’s collision with hope is refreshing. Poems like “Finally Free,” “A Gratitude List,” and “Sorry” show how her connection with God has taught her to love herself and become whole again. While the poems themselves are riveting, the Epilogue, entitled “My Story,” drives home the magnitude of addiction and the challenges that one faces on the road to recovery. Unfiltered, raw, and authentic, Brighten’s collection is filled with thought-provoking poetry that audiences will undoubtedly find engaging and meaningful.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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