Undone, Still Whole by Tianna G. Hansen – Poetry, Magic, Survival

undone still whole tianna hansen
| Reviews > Books

‘Undone, Still Whole’ by Tianna G. Hansen is a powerful poetic ritual that reaches into a survivor’s soul. This is deep magic at work.

There. Look at it, the book cover. In the very title, the word ‘undone’ is itself undone. It speaks of total dissolution, where even the words we’ve been taught from our first waking to trust as a means of communication are traitorous, fragmented.

In contrast, the title offers two words of great space, each word commanding its own line:

Still.

Whole.

These poems will cover trauma. Yes. The spirit breaking apart. And yet…

Still.

As survivors, we have the right and the power to find the space to stop. To reflect. To find the inner self untouched by anyone save ourselves.

Whole.

Trauma can leave the spirit feeling undone, unlaced and vulnerable, but this anthology looks at the raw witch power of taking that trauma to rebuild the self and come to a sense of wholeness. And this is a complete anthology, a holistic whole. A journey that may, perhaps, have begun with trauma… but does not end there.

Oh, I will surely talk about the poems and prose spells in these saddle stitched pages, but I love the title so much. Isn’t it so beautiful? A poem in itself? Such a very few words, yet so well-chosen, promising the reader pain, integrity, strength and hope before the very first page has been turned.

I honestly spent what felt like a very important while just looking at the title, taking a moment to acknowledge the lifetime it can take to write and feel those few short words, and only then did I feel ready to read on, and enjoy the beautiful poems within.

Tonight you plant a curse. Find the recipe from a love witch
— black garden curse jar.
Place your wounds inside, direct pain on the one who birthed it. A relief spell, enchantment of the heart capturing sorrows, stabbing like knives through the veins of the one who caused your ache.

‘bewitching hour’ – after Effy Winter

The first poem sets the tone – one of raw power, casting a pure light on one who is ready to take control, to transmute and transform past experience, feeling no guilt in acknowledging righteous rage, seeking healing and relief.

last night my bones became brittle,
obsequious to your every desire…

I felt them tremble within, a
vibrating skeleton of pearls.

watch me glimmer for you,
contort into
whoever
you want
me to be,

whatever
skeletal shape
I am perceived
in your eyes

brittle

In ‘brittle‘ we experience a kind of flashback, to a night when ‘bones become brittle’ and the survivor experiences their trauma at the hands of a controlling other, the skeleton imagery bringing to mind a feeling of being bared to the bone, ‘unwhole’ and unfleshed, close to shatter point – and yet still using that incredible personal power, but using it to please a greed-filled other, not fulfil their own deepest needs: “watch me glimmer for you, contort into whoever you want me to be”.

I feel it might be important that this collection does not open with the act of trauma. This is not a chronological journey, exactly; instead, every poem puts the survivor first as it weaves through all the states and emotions between feeling broken and whole.

Tianna draws beautifully, powerfully on myth and magic and strong women who have survived in stories and beyond. Calypso, Diana the Huntress, and “Hecate, cthonic earth goddess of the liminal” lend their strength to all.

With Hecate’s power, the reader is encouraged to “Open your eyes to find this world replaced with the one that came before and the one that will come after.

The survivor is invited to pull the strength of Diana deep within and urged: “Do not give up this hunt.

‘Undone, Still Whole’ illustrated by Jeremy Gaulke

In poems filled with cracking and healing, with winter hags and shrouds and bones and the soothing power of moonlight and deep magic and what lies within, we are bid to become our own phoenix: to “Reach deep, ask yourself what you need most” on “the evening when realms are broken, the line between living and dead is crossed and magic is thick in the air, ripe as peaches ready for picking.

Drawing on myth and magic and the perspectives of powerful women who have survived and flourished, Tianna turns this powerful and magic-laden collection into a spell, a litany, a ritual, a journey – one where the survivor may have been undone, but is still whole.

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