A Poetry Collection Covering the Phases of a Rose.
The rose is one of the most symbolic of all flowers. Aside from their vast healing properties, many have said it acts as a metaphor for life; believing that though the rose is known for its beauty, it is also difficult to keep alive and coming back year after year. Much like our own personal human journey, we know life can be beautiful despite being tough. And in working through the rough stuff, there is power to be had in healing and beginning anew. If there are words to be said to document this cycle, it is within L.R. Sterling’s debut poetry collection, Apothecary Bloom.
The chapbook covers a vast number of themes that include mental health, trauma, romance, and self-love, taking us on a journey through self-reflection and acceptance. Though Sterling’s range of topics kept me intrigued with each page, it is her impeccable understanding of constructing poetics that took this collection to the next level. It is clear that the author is not afraid to explore her own transparency through poetic device, and it shows in her blatantly honest words.
“She thought she was ugly/ but she never saw the flowers that bloomed/ in her eyes when she talked about poetry,” Sterling writes in chapter one, Rose-colored Glass. These words struck me, as I too know how it feels to find subconscious growth through this creative outlet, but mostly because of how well they fit into this concept that flowers bloom as our passions do.
Sterling wants her readers to find love in their own reflection, and she projects that beautifully as she writes, “Love yourself so fiercely that not even a mirror/ can remind you of your beauty.” This is a strong notion to spread to her audience, letting them know it is possible to find acceptance outside of a reflective image. It ties into the chapter’s theme of having an optimistic perspective on things, even if that thing may appear better than it truly is.
But chapter two, When Petals Falter, appears to have an undertone of losing a sense of momentum. If my perception is true, it would seem Sterling has introduced us to another phase of a rose- knowing that it is difficult to keep alive. “You had Heaven and Hell in both your eyes/ and I’m still not sure which I fell for,” expresses Sterling’s authentic account of not always having it figured out. It humanizes the notion that we are all just trying to work through things we do not understand.
But the deepest of depth to her writing is showcased in the final section, Root Rot, where Sterling gets even more blunt about her experiences. We get to feel the sense of decay, and shedding through her words here, and I respect the way she kept this particular section the most intense of all. We feel her sense of starting over, while also really understanding what lead her to that point. “She wore her sorrows like a scarf around her neck,/ faux furs of a stitched-up happiness/ not to hold onto grief, no/ but to remember, that even when it was expected/ to rip open her seams, her heart was all that held her/ pieces together” is written in a raw and truthful way while also continuing to explore the dynamic poetics within her.
There was respect to be had for L.R. Sterling prior to her book’s release, as she is an active, contributing member to the poetry community on social media, but this collection solidifies the impression that she is a powerhouse poet with a strong, honest message. “I long to touch you with the taste of my pen” are words written in Sterling’s collection to pair perfectly with her Instagram handle @TheTasteOfMyPen. She has definitely touched many with her poetry and positive aura.
I had the honor of interviewing Sterling for our Gal of the Week segment, and learned more about who she is as a woman, and special needs mother. You can read more about her and her daughter Norah Jane's story here.
Follow her journey on Instagram, and purchase a copy of Apothecary Bloom, available on Amazon.