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Violence/Joy/Chaos

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This debut full-length hybrid collection of essays and poetry explores the moments of joy and chaotic hilarity that mingle with the experiences of trauma and trauma recovery. Jane Marshall Fleming writes with a boldness and shows the beauty in every moment of her life amidst the darkness of violent chaos, embracing joy just as much as darkness. Moving from a backdrop of a small Virginia town and eventually finding herself in the freedom and wildness of the desert, readers will follow the author on her journey mapping her skin, sharing in her joys, grief, pain, loss, finding love, and self-growth throughout even the deepest chaos, night-blooming like a desert flower.

"The snippets of Jane Marshall Fleming’s life in Violence/Joy/Chaos is woven together to create an honest, open space to discuss universal themes, such as motherhood, substance abuse, and toxic relationships. Despite its moments of darkness, Fleming shows readers the sliver of light with organic transitions between poetry and the prose of her essays. The collection is at its strongest basking in these moments of light, and her ‘house speaks / And it speaks because [she] built it.’ The title for this collection is more than fitting, as Fleming shows us that between the moments of violence and chaos, there is always joy. "

— Keana Aguila Labra, Editor-in-Chief of Marías at Sampaguitas

154 pages, Paperback

First published April 1, 2020

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Jane Marshall Fleming

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Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews
Profile Image for Taylor.
374 reviews130 followers
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April 1, 2020
Thank you so much to Rhythm & Bones Press, LSBBT, and the author for providing me with an advanced ecopy in exchange for an honest review.



“…THERE IS A THIN LINE BETWEEN LOVE AND HATE. THIS COLLECTION IS ABOUT THAT THIN LINE.”

I didn’t know what to expect when I first picked up my copy of Violence/Joy/Chaos . If I’m being honest, I was lured in by the enchanting cover art created by the author’s brother, Jordan Aman. I was drawn to the dark chaos of the birds, while simultaneously being comforted by the calm woman underneath. She seemed at peace despite the avian turmoil, and I immediately wanted to know her story.

Told in a seemingly linear timeline, Violence/Joy/Chaos takes readers on a consuming journey spanning a decade of Fleming’s life. Shared through “true to life” essays and poems, Fleming’s “trauma turned art” outlines her rocky path to recovery. As stated in the preface of her debut collection, these stories are being offered to the reader as a means to take control of the past and reclaim the pieces of her that were lost along the way. And with that mission in mind, Fleming delicately bares her soul on the page for prying eyes to examine. She doesn’t hold back or shy away from extremely personal details of the events she’s survived over the past 10 years. All that she asks is that we be “gentle as we consume.”

“206 IT SAYS ON THE BOX, BUT I NEED IT TO BE ONE. SOLVE ME.”

My affections for this intoxicating collection of essays and poems grew as I consumed its pages. I was curious about the 16-year-old rage shredding poems that were discovered by her snooping mother. I was sad for the young college student assaulted after drinking too much because she “didn’t want to seem like a prude.” I was heartbroken for the woman called a monster by her boyfriend for taking a life-altering step pushed onto her by her parents and time. And I felt actual joy upon reading the final word of the mirrored poem featured at the beginning and end of this collection.

The themes and topics addressed in this book are universal and thus a perfect choice for the medium of poetry. And while I haven’t experienced many of the traumatic events our heroine faces, I can’t imagine how powerful these words could be if placed in the hands of a woman that needed to read them. Through Fleming’s personal and particular accounts, other anonymous women might get the strength they need to put the pieces of their puzzle together.

“SOMEONE ONCE TOLD ME TRAUMA LIVES IN THE GAPS — THE THINGS WE CANNOT LET SLIDE OUT OF OUR PINK, FRAGILE MOUTHS.”

Although Fleming is open and honest throughout this book, I do find myself wondering about the gaps in the collection. I’d happily have forfeited some of the drug-induced romps in the woods for a clearer understanding of the timeline between meeting her husband and her stint in a psychiatric facility. Or clarity on her relationship with Dev and Michael over the mountain climbing scenes in El Paso. At the end of the day, I’m appreciative of the balance struck between humor (read: invading neighborhood cat) and sorrow (read: the poem about spirit births — I’m still emotional over this one) and think the reader will feel resolution by the end of this turbulent tale.

It’s hard to truly summarizes my experience with this book without spoiling the secrets revealed within its pages. There were scenes that made me feel seen, and passages that left me bewildered and concerned. But I think that’s the point: to feel the confusion and rush that coincides with love and trauma.

I know we’ve got a lot of time on our hands over the next few weeks, and if you can safely handle the topics (see trigger warnings below), than I recommend you start National Poetry Month with this haunting glimpse of the healing process.

All quotes were taken from an advanced copy of this collection and may not match final release.

Violence/Joy/Chaos trigger warnings: abuse, drug use and overdosing, sexual assault, rape (implied), violence, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, cutting, suicide, gun use, abortion, and death of a loved one.
Profile Image for Ruthie Jones.
997 reviews45 followers
April 10, 2020
"I was a child playing hopscotch without the chalk lines to hold me in."

Violence/Joy/Chaos by Jane Marshall Fleming is a visceral collection of poems and essays about a life of heartache, joy, pain, drugs, loss, and healing. The raw emotions pouring from this collection is breathtaking and disconcerting. Jane’s young life has been spread across valleys and mountains—atmosphere and earth. This outpouring of honesty is unchained and floats across the pages and into the reader’s mind and heart. Both violence and joy are displayed chaotically yet still with a clear, illuminated path of forward motion.

The author’s unvarnished presentation of emotions, actions, and choices is riddled with both melancholy and hope. We are all burdened by loss and anxiety, and Jane captures her own experiences to show us that we are not alone, even when the darkness closes in. Drugs have played a large role in Jane’s experiences, altering her mind and sending her into highs and lows. Through it all, Jane constantly runs barefoot, despite the danger of cuts and bruises to tender soles. This image of bare feet that are both vulnerable and strong is striking throughout. The pleasure of the earth under each foot, drawing its magnetism into the body, beautifully captures Jane's connection to the ground and that feeling of being solidly anchored, even when her life becomes unmoored. The constant bleeding and healing of her feet show that while we suffer our burdens, we also heal and are made whole again, time after time. This cycle mimics the seasons of life, of the earth, of the cosmos, and Jane shares with us her small place in all that chaos.

These essays and poems in Violence/Joy/Chaos are boisterous and tumultuous; however, the story remains intact as Jane outlines events through both prose and verse. This short collection of one woman’s turbulent journey is quick to read but will linger and permeate the mind and soul. No one is immune or exempt from such chaos, but how we endure the journey and eventually peek out from the other side are what define us and what give us courage, strength, and hope to carry on. Jane has unabashedly given us this gift of her organic truth so that we can reflect on our own chaotic journey of violence and joy.

I received a free copy of this book from Lone Star Book Blog Tours in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Ariel Hess.
161 reviews5 followers
April 3, 2020

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

There aren't too many words that I could use to fully describe how beautifully written this book of poetry is written. This book of poems flows wonderfully together as the author allows the reader to be transferred into her life. The highly descriptive writing style allows for the emotions of the author to be transferred onto the page. It is such a challenge to portray such raw emotions in such a way that not only captures the attention of the reader but also provides a connection between the reader and the storyline. There are moments during the reading that feel her anger, sadness, grief, love, pain, and finally freedom. You feel as though not only is she free from herself. Although her road to recovery and freedom was tumultuous it is truly enlightening to take on the journey to her discovering herself. The most beautiful part of this book is knowing that although she finally was able to find true love she still struggled daily with control. That is inspiring to know that it is okay to struggle even after you become free. Here dialogue with herself is powerful and shows the reader the true power of words. One of the most important conversations you will have is the one you have with yourself. 

I cried, I laughed, and I gasped while reading this book of poetry. There were a lot of instances where the author captures the essence of each moment being described. Throughout this collection of essays and poems, you find yourself crying when she cries, laughing when she laughs, and rejoicing in those moments of triumph. We are all transferred into her life as she takes us on a long-awaited journey through the years and we watch her find her voice and discover herself. There were a few moments where I essentially had to stop and process the information that was delivered.

You can view the full review on my blog at Libraries Book Adventures
Profile Image for A.Borroel.
36 reviews
April 11, 2020
The words. It's all about the beautiful and pristine and hurtful words that makes this book well worth reading. From the very beginning, the author does a great job of grabbing you in with her wonderfully used words that it just intrigues you to finish this book so that you can read more beautifully, tragic sentences. When the author writes about love, she writes it all down in a poetically induced atmosphere. And when she is hurting and clinging to the words of her ex-lover, she seamlessly mirrors her feelings onto her pages.

The author was able to redirect me into her life while reminding me of my own young adult life. She brought out memories of past loves, past friendships and how, as I'm in the middle of my 20's, things are still changing and a single moment in my life can either be remembered or forgotten. One part of the book that really choked me up was when she was describing looking through old photos of friends and how she never thought that the last time she would see those friends would be in this picture. I always think about that. How some old friends of mine saw each other for the last time and we didn't even realize it. Reminds us all that we are not invincible to time.

I commend the author for writing down her life situations and her feelings. It's not an easy thing to do, but she was brave enough to write down all the joys, the love, the highs and the lows and kindly let us know about her dreadlocks phase. She is raw and she is real and she makes you feel like you are not alone, which is especially needed right now through these crazy times. And her ability to be so honest with her life, makes you just want to read until the cow jumps over the moon.

I also just loved the way that the author moves around her writing style throughout the book. In one chapter, you usually read an essay styled story and then a poem and then sometimes it felt like I was reading slam poetry and then back to essays. It really keeps the reader engaged and it was great on transitioning from one part of her life to another.

I would recommend this book to any young or even middle-aged adults who love poetry or just looking for something relatable and true. It was a real honor to read this book with its beautifully written words and its heavy topics.
1 review
April 11, 2020
If you’ve experienced trauma of any dimension,
If you want to cry,
If you’ve experienced loss,
If you’ve found self love to be a challenge,
If you love poetry,
If you don’t love poetry,
If you feel the earth as more than mud and grass,
If you’re struggling with addiction,
If you’ve experienced heartbreak,
If you’ve struggled with abortion,
If the rain against your skin feeds your soul,
If you feel alone,
If you love good literature,
If you want to read a book cover to cover,
Buy this.
Never have I felt so embodied by someone else’s words. I’ve never gotten into poetry, but Jane’s ability to string together the perfect combination of words, her unique placement of pause, and her raw, unapologetic yet timid honesty make every page, essays included, the true definition of poetry. It’s obvious making money wasn’t on the top of her mind when she wrote these words; her success is made simple by her authenticity.
Read Violence/Joy/Chaos and allow your own experiences to intertwine with hers. Heal while she heals, mourn while she mourns, and forget where you are while you do so. It’s impossible not to.
Profile Image for Lannie Stabile.
Author 11 books23 followers
May 7, 2020
I gotta' admit I'm not a creative non-fiction kind of reader, but there's just something about this collection that wooed me. It's honest and powerful and, though a lot of unimaginable things occur, surprisingly relatable. Jane, thank you for pulling your ribs apart and letting me in for awhile.
Profile Image for Catrice ♡.
52 reviews8 followers
March 4, 2020
In her hard-hitting full-length chapbook debut, “Violence/Joy/Chaos”, Jane Marshall Fleming offers to “let (her) teach (us) how to read (her)”. In poems and essays that chronicle trauma, grief, and recovery, she does just this. Early in the chapbook, Fleming states both that “survival is to love oneself despite violence” and that “recovery is loving oneself violently”. These statements came to me as a reader at a time when I needed them most.
There are several triggering topics discussed in this chapbook, including assault, abuse, loss of a child, drug use, self-harm, and suicide. However, if you can handle these topics, I would absolutely recommend this book.
While many of the poems seemed like dressing to the chapbook, the essays were incredibly vulnerable, and felt like the true heart of Fleming’s story. In each essay, she breathes life into her past and exposes many old, many still-healing, wounds. The essays that struck me most included those about her mental health, specifically about her stay in a psych ward. This was a heartbreaking story that I could relate to the most. In the essay, she is forced to wear handcuffs while she enters the ward escorted by police, to a ward where she receives minimal-at-best treatment. This angered me but did not at all surprise me based on my own experiences. This was a horrifically accurate portrayal.
Later in the book, Fleming says that trauma lives in the gaps. I’d say that I absolutely agree with her. To me, talking about trauma feels like breaking one of my own bones. I found this chapbook to be very brave, vulnerable, and powerful. I am glad to have read it. I hope the author continues to find healing. In the epilogue, she mentions saying to a friend that she was embarrassed to have written a book. I beg her not to be.
1 review1 follower
February 9, 2020
Violence/Joy/Chaos is a striking portrait of a young woman, a memoir of the fascinating path her life has taken thus far. More poetry than prose, the sense of who this remarkable woman is comes through on each page. Her highs, her lows, her joys, her sorrows- all is delivered in a way that makes you feel you've known her forever. It isn't reading for the faint of heart. She doesn't shy away from her pain, instead delivering it as she feels it. This makes it stand put amongst auto-biographical work. There is a truth to how she presents herself that is as undeniable as it is moving.

Jane Marshall Fleming, our dear author and heroine, shows us a life full of paths less traveled, and is candid about her struggles, interspersed with musings on day-to-day life, and intimate glimpses at some of her darkest and lightest days. I for one ended my reading grateful to have been let into her world for even a short time. Her poetry is her own, as is her story.

I cannot recommend it highly enough.
1 review
May 1, 2020
Jane Marshall Fleming boldly practices radical vulnerability in this autobiographical collection of essays, narratives, and poetry. She masterfully and carefully reveals her personal stories though vivid imagery and at times brutally raw staccato that her editor, Tianna provides on single pages- perhaps because I as the reader either needed to stand at a distance from the words or needed encouragement to breathe and continue the course. I am perhaps different than other readers, because I'm Jane's mother. I am proud of the labor Jane has endured to give birth to what resided under her fragile, translucent, itchy, dry, bleeding, cracked, and gorgeous skin. Jane faces herself in this collection and hands the reader a rare gem of insight that can take a lifetime to acquire after experiencing such trauma and self-medicating to escape such knowing.
1 review
May 1, 2020
A shining beacon of hope for trauma survivors, written with artistic sophistication I haven’t seen before 5/5 I would recommend this to anyone and everyone.
Profile Image for Courtney LeBlanc.
Author 13 books53 followers
October 23, 2020
I really wanted to love this collection as the cover art is some of the most gorgeous I've seen and I'm a big fan of non-linear narrative CNF. And this has poetry mixed in too, so I was really excited to receive it. Unfortunately I just didn't love it; it reads like a good draft that needs a good editor to work out the kinks - cliches, generic writing, misspellings... I'm okay with a timeline that jumps around but many of these essays didn't have enough grounding to ensure the reader know when in the timeline they were occurring. Some parts are left deliberately vague and while the reader doesn't need to know every detail, it helps to not leave them confused. I also wanted more from the poems - instead they were just recaps of the previous essay(s) and didn't add to the story. Some of the essays didn't add to the story either - lots of drug-related stories that don't build to anything. Overall, this is a collection that had a lot of potential but I think another round of editing/workshopping was needed to push it to a place where it was ready for publication.
Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews

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