Book Review: Flowers of the Flesh by Effy Winter

Book Review: Flowers of the Flesh by Effy Winter


“I tragically unfold for you”
-Effy Winter, Flowers of the Flesh


Effy Winter’s Flowers of the Flesh, to be published by Rhythm & Bones Press, is a book that beckons me in through a garden gate and bids my hands to sink into her lush earth. This poetry collection is dark and deep. Engorged petals bloom under a full moon and thorns prick unsuspecting skin beneath cover of night. As I turn the pages, it becomes hard to separate the land from the body. They merge in a silent understanding. This is a story filled with passion, pain and the vulnerability of love.


“My pearl soul splits

                                                       all of its ivory bone
                                                     and silk witchery.”

-Effy Winter, Flowers of the Flesh


Each turn of the page brings more devastation, beauty and an eroticism that opens questions in my mind. I don’t know if I am supposed to feel horror or ecstasy and I realize that I am imposing a limitation in my mind that doesn’t belong within Winter’s poetry. She speaks of deflowering with a tender violence. I find myself tracing the edge of where pleasure meets pain. I tumble from stanza to stanza, experiencing a range of emotions from deepest loss to the outpouring of sensual bliss.

Her poetry is a welcome challenge to my senses. I try to follow the thread in this collection. Mostly, I am lost in thoughts and memories. I am filled with the ache of her loss and bewitched by a sadness that I would turn from for a moment of respite, but that demands I continue reading.


“The throat of this wrist is a petaled wound.

It is our dying breath that opens the blood,
devouring sanctity and flesh.”
-Effy Winter, Flowers of the Flesh


Part of the brilliance of this collection is the space the poet and publisher create for the reader’s consideration. This is no dense foliage of text. Winter holds the petal of herself in the palm of her hand and invites me to inspect it with my head bowed close enough so I am almost nose to flesh and then pressed to petal again. This reminds me of the late Georgia O’Keeffe’s floral paintings. I read once that she wanted to paint a flower so large that viewers had no choice but to stop and consider it. She would cup her hands around a petal this way so that the entire world around a person was blocked off. Viewing Georgia’s flowers is an immersing experience. So, too, is reading this poetry.

There is no room for the outside world here. There is nothing to consider except the intense emotion and the morphing of flesh to flower and back again.


“I bury swallows of holy water
and still, a black rose unfurls in my throat.”
-Effy Winter, Flowers of the Flesh


A spectrum of emotion and powerful imagery is my guide through this garden of passionate loss. This is a journey I will not soon forget and want to revisit many times over. I search through my own memory bank and consider the places where I have left myself open and vulnerable, fully expressed, giving the one I adore the most power to hurt and devastate me.

Would I make a different choice knowing that this kind of pain and loss is the possible outcome? Would I suffer a lesser love for the safety net of distance? Even as I witness her suffering, my answer is still the same: no. Effy Winter is a poet to watch and read closely and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future. For now, I’ll continue to visit her formidable garden of poetry and consider the landscape of my own.

About the Author

Effy Winter is a poet, editor and witch from Philadelphia, PA. She is the author of Flowers of the Flesh (Rhythm & Bones Press) and her work appears in Angelical Ravings, Soft Cartel, Rust & Moth and other publications. Effy currently works as the managing editor for Vessel Press and is a contributing writer for Witch Way Magazine and Rose Quartz Journal. She is the Love Witch for PUSSY MAGIC, a literary magazine and online grimoire for witches, and curator of The Love Witch’s Musings, a column where you will find her romantic poetry, spells and rituals. Find out more at, and follow her on Twitter: @fleurwomb.

Note: Flowers of the Flesh, by Effy Winter will be released on January 19, 2019 by Rhythm and Bones Press. It is currently available for pre-order.