Book Review – ‘Spoken Medicine’ by Gabrielle Journey Jones

I purchased a copy of this book at the Flash Fiction Fun Weekend in Canberra in April, 2019.

Gabrielle Journey Jones’ debut collection Spoken Medicine is a poetic revelation. Part personal diary, part intimate performance, she draws on contemporary events and themes to create poetry that leads the reader to question what they know and understand about the everyday lives and events unfolding around them.

The collection is divided into sections, exploring freedom, creativity, family, and identity – all elements that construct the poet and their view of the world. In the section on freedom she is fiercely political without ever sounding strident. Racism, gender violence, humanitarian issues and feminism are all held under her microscope in this section. It’s not all about crises; there are also solutions posed to some of these problems. In ‘Spirituality Is In’, she writes:

Spirituality is in 
The courage to live according to my values
Speaking my truth with loving kindness
Showing others the respect
And courtesy to do the same

When contemplating creativity, Gabrielle examines her creative process, what drives it, and how her work manifests. There are nods to her influences, the poetry events she participates in, and the performance aspect that underpins her poetic style and structure. When considering family, she examines her role as both mother and child, and how she both shapes and is shaped by the familial context. Finally, identity looks at how she creates herself; out of both her heritage, and beliefs about who she is and who she wants to be.

Each of these sections seems to be a thread in the whole of the poet’s concept of herself. The elements come together to paint a portrait of both an individual and a society, communing to bring each other closer. These poems ask us to be gentler with each other while also calling out the behaviours and beliefs which undermine that harmony.

Jones has a strong background in performance poetry and this shines through in her work, which she herself suggests is best read aloud. There is a beautiful rhythm to her words and they flow easily off the tongue like water. There is a sharp use of rhyme and slant rhyme that add a melodic element. In ‘Mind Journey’ there is a stunning example of this:

These days, I’m not much into writing rhymes
I’m spending time trying to climb
into the far reaches of my mind.
Designed to find ‘enlightenment’
but am I meant to cling to my achievement?

In Spoken Medicine, Gabrielle Journey Jones speaks her truth about the process of creation, of becoming, and of coming into your own and recognising what makes you who you are. Her powerful, lyrical poems sit perfectly in the contemporary poetry sphere and speak to the reader about the world today, and the importance of knowing yourself and what you believe in. This book is an invitation to the reader to speak their own truth, allow others to do the same, and see how sharing these truths can expand us into kinder, more compassionate human beings.

Spoken Medicine is available now from Ginninderra Press.

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