Review: Sweetdark, Savannah Brown

When I first stumbled across Savannah Brown, it was 2016. She’d gone viral with her slam poetry, the now privatised ‘Hi, I’m a Slut’ marking my first serious foray into fourth-wave feminism. Now, after producing several other viral poems and releasing her fantastic debut novel The Truth About Keeping Secrets in 2019, Brown has released her second book of poetry, Sweetdark. 

The collection is split into three parts, set in ‘London (and occasionally the apocalypse)’ as the blurb aptly describes. Each part seems to descend from London, the recognisable urban reality, into a darker setting, quicker as the collection moves through the parts. Particular highlights come from the precipice – just between the two settings, ‘Folie à deux’ being a stunning example. But Brown also displays unending creativity with ‘I want you to look at the moon’, written only with words and phrases from quotes by the astronauts on the Apollo missions.

Truthfully, there’s something about the way Savannah Brown uses language that eludes apt description. Grasping at it as easily as a duck takes to water, Brown has an innate ability to select the exact words to elicit the aesthetics she uses as inspiration – indeed, I find myself seeing ‘the parakeets which fly in Greenwich park’ from behind her rose-coloured glasses’ as if transported through the pages. Is there a poet who has managed to achieve this same effect, modern setting or not, previously? Not to this degree.

It’s Savannah’s unique talent that takes you with her on her journey, wherever she goes. This is her recurrent theme, through poetry and prose: a mastery of the English language that doesn’t make it past the line into pretentiousness, something many who write fall into when the reader feels like they used a thesaurus for every word. Beautiful description and rhythm flow from Brown’s pen so easily you’d think it effortless.
But don’t think that Sweetdark can be consumed as easily – this is one to savour, not devour in one sitting. ‘Full of so much darkness and so much sweetness, sometimes in the same breath’ says the blurb, and this sums up Sweetdark perfectly – so brilliant you won’t want to put it down, while at the same time making you painfully nostalgic for a past you’ve never had.

Image Credit: Lizzie Wright