Book Review – ‘Lady Saturn’ by Wanda Deglane

I purchased an annotated copy of this book from the publisher. 

Wanda Deglane’s Lady Saturn is a brief but beautiful journey through a life marked by mental health struggles. From the very first poem, Deglane recognises the beginnings of difficulty in her childhood, in which she decides “if you must be a disappointment / then you’ll taste every bit of it”; and from here, we journey with Wanda into some of her darker moments as she searches for a way back to the light. 

Deglane is a young but accomplished poet. In Lady Saturn she is playful with form, and the variety keeps the work fresh for the reader. Her language and content is the perfect rebuttal to those who claim poetry is dead; contemporary and modern, it addresses the realities of millennial life without ever sounding dated or staid. Her voice is resonant and intimate throughout, and she doesn’t shy away from her pain: “I need the light to come back to me. I need peace and quiet. I need justice and blood. I don’t know what I need.” 

The dark moments throughout the book are real and visceral. But there is also a sense of fighting back – the poem In My Defense is a brilliant clapback at bullies, and in the titular poem of the book, she finds a voice to soothe her own self-doubt and ease her towards self-love. Deglane feels the strength of this and captures it perfectly in Saturn’s voice: “She held my hand up for me to see. This skin. / These fingers, stitched together so perfectly. Even / your eyes are like nebulas. I’ve lived with diamond rain for eons / but I’ve never seen anything so beautiful.” There is a sense of awakening here, of an understanding that to hold oneself in high esteem, to regard one’s true worth, is a powerful act. With this comes a feeling of self-forgiveness and release.

The poems here fit together like jigsaw pieces to create a tapestry of the emotions that come alongside living with mental health challenges and trauma; the struggles with sleeplessness and the delicate balance of medication, the impact of Deglane’s formative experiences on the way she sees herself in the world. While she does take the reader into dark places, Wanda makes sure she returns them to the light before she gently lets go of their hand.

Lady Saturn is a beautiful collection of contemporary poetry. Its vivid imagery and lush language create bittersweet, heartbreaking moments, offset by small victories as the poems dip and soar. Readers of this brief but heartfelt book will almost certainly be left wanting more of Wanda Deglane’s words.

Wanda Deglane’s Lady Saturn can be purchased from Rhythm & Bones Press

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