Second Skin
by Katerina Stoykova

"It’s time to take you out
And drape you on the line.
Second skin,
I see you."

Stoykova’s poetry compilation demonstrates the power of the written word. Penned with force, grace, and, most importantly, authenticity, the work revolves around pertinent and personal issues of domestic violence, abuse, self-worth, and a litany of other topics that too often go unheard. At its core, Stoykova’s poetry is an outpouring, a therapeutic release. It provides a voice to millions who have been broken under the weight of such an albatross. From the first poem, “Welcome, Horror,” Stoykova’s poetry delivers a heartbreaking account, not of domestic violence, but more so the ramifications and its aftermath.

Rarely do poetic content and stylistic execution align as well as they do here. There is a lyrical element to the poetry that is haunting beyond words, seemingly singing of its torturous experiences. In particular, “8th Floor Balcony Ghazal” is chilling and needs to be read multiple times to soak in the mind-numbing imagery and the potent balcony repetition. The use of repetition plants searing images and emotions into the mind that the reader simply cannot excise.

What should be noted, however, is that Stoykova’s work is hardly a simple rant against domestic violence. On the contrary, it is exquisite poetry and dynamic storytelling that will leave audiences enraged at what victims go through. In “At the Hospital” and “Here is What I Remember,” the violence’s visceral nature, its impact on a young child, and the concept of what the word “home” means are in full effect. When the response to how you are feeling is “like the stick left over from the lollipop,” not much else needs to be said. Readers will experience a flurry of feelings, from emptiness to fury. With each passing poem, the poetry becomes more startling and stunning—a surefire must read that should be at the forefront of conversations.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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