Review: ‘Aphrodite Made Me Do It’ Trista Mateer

Bestselling and award-winning author Trista Mateer takes an imaginative approach to self-care in this new poetry and prose collection, Aphrodite Made Me Do It . In this empowering retelling, she uses the mythology of the goddess to weave a common thread through the past and present. By the end of this book, Aphrodite will make you believe in the possibility of your own healing.

This time 24 hours ago, I hadn’t heard of Trista Mateer, let alone read any of her work. I heard about Aphrodite Made Me Do It through Kristin over at Kristin Kraves Books and I just knew the moment I laid eyes on its gorgeous front cover that I had to read it. I tend to prefer physical books over e-books, but I was so impatient to read it that I purchased it on Kindle. Given how much I enjoyed it, though, I may well end up buying myself a physical copy too.

I love poetry, but I haven’t actually read much in the past year or so. I think part of the reason is down to the fact that I find a lot of contemporary poets rather ‘samey’, ie. they favour minimalist poetry. Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with minimalist poetry. I myself have dabbled with minimalist poetry and for me, poetry isn’t about how your poem is written; it’s about the thoughts, ideas and emotions embedded within your words. A lack of punctuation or capitalisation doesn’t detract from a powerful message. However, for me personally, I feel as though minimalist poetry has become the ‘in’ thing and many poets are mimicking one another’s styles as opposed to discovering their own. Again, as I said before, there is nothing wrong with minimalist poetry, but whenever I went into a bookstore BC (Before Covid), I felt as though it was all I was seeing on the shelves.

So when I read Aphrodite Made Me Do It, it was like a breath fresh air. Trista Mateer’s writing is lyrical and evocative and covers a wide range of themes, from love to abuse, from healing to body image. As a person who’s gone through some of the things that Trista discusses in her poetry, I found this collection to be balm to my soul. It’s a very intimate collection, if that makes any sense at all. Every single reader will be able to relate to at least one poem on a soul-deep level. They’ll read a poem and think, Someone gets it, and this is one of the things that made me fall in love with poetry in the first place. It brings people together and makes them feel less alone in their experiences.

I also love how Trista has given Aphrodite a voice with this collection. Over the centuries, Aphrodite has been reduced to nothing more than a symbol of love and beauty. She wasn’t just the goddess of love and beauty, though, she was also a goddess of war. Trista discusses how men couldn’t understand the multifaceted nature of Aphrodite’s being. They couldn’t (or rather, wouldn’t) accept that she could be both “bloody and beautiful” and I feel as though every single person who identifies as a woman is Aphrodite in this sense. We’ve all met people who harbour rigid ideas of what it means to be a woman, people who are very quick to voice their unwanted opinions if we don’t meet their definition of it.

If you’re a fan of poetry, I really can’t recommend Aphrodite Made Me Do It enough.

Want to read Aphrodite Made Me Do It? Head on over to Bookshop or Amazon, or order it through your local bookstore.

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