Unexpected Alchemy


Loved it! 😍

Rich in metaphor, fluid in narration, and highly conscious of life’s ups and downs, this collection by Skye Nicholson is poetically alive.

The ancient science and philosophy of alchemy was aimed at achieving the best by transforming the raw, the crude. Skye Nicholson’s Unexpected Alchemy relives that tradition in poetic depiction of her life’s transformation.

These poems of “addiction and awakening” – as the poet calls them – follow the four alchemy phases and accordingly the book is divided in four sections: (1) Calcination and Dissolution, (2) Separation and Conjunction, (3) Fermentation, and (4) Distillation and Coagulation. In that order, the life in these poems starts raw, moves through wear-and-tear, dissolves and purifies, and ultimately becomes a new life that is beautiful and polished.

Nicholson’s poems in Unexpected Alchemy are short, mostly a page or less. Each poem, however, is a mini story of its own, or in many cases, a picture in words since it has distinct imagist features. Each poem comes as a chapter in a life undergoing alchemical transformation from the broken and despaired phase in “Sloshed” (the first poem) to the healed and at-peace state in “Return of Sandhill Cranes” (the last poem).

There are some prose poems in this collection and a few with specialized structures as against the standard stanza structure of traditional poetry. The shift in structure, at times, complements the general theme of transformation that laces the stories together in these poems. Aside from the familiar metaphor of journey for life, Unexpected Alchemy seems to employ several metaphors of nature for phases of life. In “Dissolved” (p. 24), the various states of water in nature – ebb, flow, freeze, thaw, condense etc – embody the range of emotions one experiences in their personal life facing challenges. There is more winter in the first half and more spring in the latter one, parallel to the transformation via alchemy.

The mode is mainly narrative and works best this way for memories of phases of life that make stories, which in turn become verse. This creates an alchemy of versification via Nicholson’s furnace of creativity – an “unexpected alchemy” if you will. Not surprisingly, she starts her poems “Fires Part I” (p. 9) and “Fires Part II” (p. 31) with the same line: “I used to start fires everywhere.”

Unexpected Alchemy brings the soul of life’s transformation out in lines that speak directly to the soul. Through this book, Skye Nicholson comes across genuine, strong, and alive.

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I am a writer, published book author, and editor with background in literature and science. I am also a screenwriter and about to make my debut in the film world.

Calcination and Dissolution

About the author

After making the decision in January 2018 to put an end to 25 years of alcohol abuse, Skye Nicholson began her ongoing journey of healing and self-acceptance. In 2021, Skye became a certified Recovery Coach and formed Soul’s Truth Coaching, LLC, an empowerment coaching service for women. view profile

Published on January 07, 2022

6000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Poetry

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