Searching for the Butterflies You Crushed Last Night by Valax Malum

Source: Publisher
Hardcover, 61 pgs.
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Searching for the Butterflies You Crushed Last Night by Valax Malum is a collection that could trigger those with suicidal thoughts, but it also could help them work through some of those dark feelings by demonstrating that they are not alone.

The collection opens with an author’s note about the struggles of the author and cautions that the author has struggled to move past those suicidal thoughts and is in a better place. As a bookend to that, there’s a note at the end of the book discussions the need for validating feelings that are dark because the world is not all sunshine and roses, and those who struggle have valid feelings and those feelings need to be dealt with through therapy, creation, etc.

One element that did not add to the depth or message of the collection were the poems that were written so that you needed a mirror to read them. This strategy did not add to the poems’ meanings or value. It seemed gimmicky.

However, the narrator speaks to the person they were, the person that harmed them, and the thoughts that plague them with frankness. This enables to reader to not only feel empathy but also reflect on their own darkness. “and your face is scarred as you look away/and you’re half as bright as they used to say” (“half-moon” pg. 11)

Marks of the Beast (pg. 13)

bitter mornings crossing wires
little warning shots I fire
subtle blisters, cheek and temple
from the kiss of heated metal

Malum does not shy away from the deepest secrets or the harshest memories, but uses those to seek understanding and closure, as well as healing. In “All Roads Lead to Parsa” (pg. 17-8), the narrator pleads with the reader and themself to “change your shoes/rinse your mouth/spread your ashes//choose your road,/and follow it.” We can all grow and change, we just have to choose to do it and follow through, no matter how hard it can be. Searching for the Butterflies You Crushed Last Night by Valax Malum is an encapsulated journey in which mental health struggles are laid bare for the purpose of healing and transformation.

RATING: Tercet

Mailbox Monday #736

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has its own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Emma, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what I received:

Searching for the Butterflies You Crushed Last Night by Valax Malum, which is for review.

This collection of poetry expresses a significant amount of suicidal ideation as a means for processing trauma. As such, it references self-harm to varying degrees. This most often manifests as drug use, a distinct lack of self-preservation, and risky romantic entanglements.

We’re all seeking a high that will help us feel good, whether it’s a person, a substance, or an ending. We all want to forget sometimes.

If you think this will help you to feel less isolated in your own experiences, read on. If you think this will trigger your ideation… perhaps revisit Butterflies at another time.

What did you receive?