Review: “Hyacinthus Hurricane” Represents the Romantic and the Uncomfortable

WD Ballner recently released a poetry collection that appeals to lovers of poetry, mythology, and other human beings.

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Review: “Hyacinthus Hurricane” Represents the Romantic and the Uncomfortable

Kayla Alcorcha, Reporter

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“Hyacinthus Hurricane” is a self-published collection of poems written by WD Ballner. The proclaimed pastel whirlwinds that characterize Ballner’s being are embodied by the color scheme of the cover itself — lavender, both the flower and the hue, presents itself on the exterior with soft prominence. The poems bound within the book are of the body, the heart, and the soul; Ballner uses various poetic forms to describe dysphoria, relationships, and religion. “Hyacinthus Hurricane” is a compilation of college experiences representative of the human capacity for love.

The struggles detailed by Ballner are not empathetically accessible to all — those that decidedly devote time to this purple-painted collection may not identify as queer, may not understand the societal significance of Sappho — yet the pain that pours out of certain pages requires only conventional sympathy to impress an emotional effect on the reader. Additionally, the pages of “Hyacinthus Hurricane” are permeated by allusions to Greek mythology that some readers may not be familiar with; multiple poems in their entirety use historical deities as metaphors for larger concepts. Ares is often used as a synonym for the speaker’s anger, and Hestia is symbolic of the inherently invisible work of the homemakers that humans take for granted. The contrasting natures of Ares and Iris, along with the astrological connotations of Venus and Ceres, are informational fragments that help the reader potentially piece together the intentions of the poet. While knowledge of these concepts is not integral in the appreciation of each poem, it admittedly augments one’s subjective understanding.

Photo by Kayla Alcorcha

The aforementioned Sappho, an Archaic Greek poet indigenous to the island of Lesbos, repeatedly appears in accordance with recounted expressions of queer love. In “Sestina For the warrior, To Aphrodite,” the speaker pleads the goddess of love for kindness, for more time with their female lover. This desperate sentiment is sent heavenwards in the hopes that Aphrodite will divinely intervene, but the attempt is futile. The delicate, despondent sadness is intensified when the reader remembers a line twelve pages past: “‘The goddess of love and beauty ignores her own.’” While this poem is heavy with hopelessness, others are colored with pastel fondness: “High Life, High Love” illustrates the dream-like haze associated with newfound romance. Other projections of affection are also explored, including self-love and admiration for the art of poetry. The former can be seen in “A Love Letter To Myself ”— a poem in which harsh adjectives are offset by encouraging words and WD Ballner provides intrapersonal support for their struggling self. 

‘I write you like I actually know how to write a love letter/When all I actually know how to write/Are poems that I never seem to love past writing them’”

— WD Ballner

Sporadically intertwined with the institution of religion, the intricacies of love are instrumental to this poetry collection. Ballner pays tribute to their love for poetry as well as their relationship with writing itself in two respective poems. Many writers may see themselves in these pieces; the poems detail both the romantic and uncomfortable aspects of creating, both the fluttering fingers and the fear of one’s own mind.  “Hyacinthus Hurricane” is a chronology of continuous, commendable battles fought for four years; this poetry book details difficult developmental metamorphoses and holds a friendly mirror to the faces of the unheard. 

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