Mourning is the new black…
The tradition of Victorian mourning jewelry began with Queen Victoria after the death of her husband, Prince Albert. Without photography, mementos of personal remembrance were used to honor the dead so that their loved ones could commemorate their memory and keep their spirits close. Ashes were placed within rings, and necklaces were made out of hair, and the concept of death photography, small portraitures of the deceased, were often encased behind glass. Mourning jewelry became a fashion statement as much as a way to cope with grief, and as their pain evolved over the years, so did their jewelry.
But what about the sadness and the memories that they kept close to them at all times? The death-day visions and the reoccurring nightmares? Wytovich explores the horror that breeds inside of the lockets, the quiet terror that hides in the center of the rings. Her collection shows that mourning isn’t a temporary state of being, but rather a permanent sickness, an encompassing disease. Her women are alive and dead, lovers and ghosts. They live in worlds that we cannot see, but that we can feel at midnight, that we can explore at three a.m.
Wytovich shows us that there are hearts to shadows and pulses beneath the grave. To her, Mourning Jewelry isn’t something that you wear around your neck. It’s not fashion or a trend. It’s something that you carry inside of you, something that no matter how much it screams, that you can just can’t seem to let out.
“No, it’s not love, but it is something / and that something is painful, and I wish it would stop.”
Mourning Jewelry is my third poetry collection from Stephanie Wytovich, and I loved it! Each of her collections has a theme, and it’s always fun to be in that world for a bit. This book focuses on the horror involved with mourning, and I loved the absolute grimness of Mourning Jewelry.
This is a collection of about 100 poems, and I rated everything between 3.5⭐ to 5⭐, and there were so many great stories within these poems. Some were sad, some were funny, some were haunting – there was an excellent variety. I was thrilled that there was a Sylvia Plath-related poem in Mourning Jewelry. It fit in so well with the rest of the collection, and Sylvia Plath is the best.
My top 5 poems in Mourning Jewelry are Corpse Flower, Free My Soul, Jade Keeps the Rot Away, Sylvia, and Yellow Makes Her Quiver. These were all so gorgeous, and many of them were fairly gruesome. There’s a lot of grief and pain here, and as always, I appreciate Stephanie’s honesty in her writing.
I really connected with this collection, and I highly recommend it for someone wanting to dig into poetry about darkness and death written in a beautiful way. I saw Sylvia Plath’s influence in this collection more so than the others, and it made me very happy. Sometimes it’s just the vibe I need, and it was provided here. I love Stephanie’s writing, and I highly recommend her collections. I know a lot more people have been wanting to get into horror poetry recently, and I think this could be a great one to start with. It’s dark, inviting, and easy to understand, which is something I love about horror poetry.
About Stephanie M. Wytovich
Stephanie M. Wytovich is an American poet, novelist, and essayist. Her work has been showcased in numerous anthologies such as Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories, Shadows Over Main Street: An Anthology of Small-Town Lovecraftian Terror, Year’s Best Hardcore Horror: Volume 2, The Best Horror of the Year: Volume 8, as well as many others.
Wytovich is the Poetry Editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, an adjunct at Point Park University, a lecturer at Southern New Hampshire University and Western Connecticut State University, and a mentor with Crystal Lake Publishing. She is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, an active member of the Horror Writers Association, and a graduate of Seton Hill University’s MFA program for Writing Popular Fiction. Her Bram Stoker Award-winning poetry collection, Brothel, earned a home with Raw Dog Screaming Press alongside Hysteria: A Collection of Madness, Mourning Jewelry, An Exorcism of Angels, and Sheet Music to My Acoustic Nightmare. Her debut novel, The Eighth, is published with Dark Regions Press.
Visit her website here: https://www.stephaniemwytovich.com/