Writers Space Africa-Rwanda
Issue 1 Review

East of Faith, West of Fear by Lise Nova – A Review by Sandra Nadege

East of Faith, West of Fear by Lise Nova is a wonderful read. All around, speaking. Throughout the 33 poems in this collection, one can feel that the poet is an eloquent speaker, probably a calm person with a loud soul. Her style is established throughout the book; I’d describe it as a fiery dagger that just slits your brain and heart and allows you to internalise the themes that she tackles. I can tell that each of the pieces was written from the heart but was reviewed by the brain before they turned into the poems I ended up reading.

The collection opens with pieces that propel a reader to reminisce alongside the author. In Remember Me This Way, I felt a tear form, but it didn’t fall. It’s a beautiful depiction of the speaker’s personality and the things she cherishes. The same self-reflection reoccurs in poems like Pride and Pain and Solo Surgery. They made me feel like I was having one of those 2 a.m. deep conversations with the poetess.

On the theme of love, I muse, that’s where the author creates with her heart and reviews with her mind. I felt a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the experience. In Be Mine, Play Me Like a Violin and Possessed by Pleasure, I felt a deep longing for such feelings; I missed love. However, Lise Nova took a turn against it in poems like The Thing Called Love and Emerald Green. She portrayed love in a way that reminded me that it’s a fleeting feeling that I can loathe easily and don’t ever want to feel.

The author further explores self-love in a piece titled That I Promise You, My Soul and in Decision, she urges readers to take time for retrospection. There are references to what I believe interests the poet—of course, classical music, nature, and mythology—in pieces like Mother Earth as well as Salty Lake. I also discovered the author’s interesting perspective on God in Meeting God though I can’t label it religion in this instance. The poem portrays a personal connection the poetess has with God. I can call it an unpopular viewpoint because I have grown to believe that many people seem to have a crowded relationship with ‘God’. 

There’s a fair share of figurative language throughout all poems. The diction is good and more of a referral and figurative nature than rancid or vivid imagery. This makes me believe that the poet crafts from memory and feelings. I love how the poetess draws readers into her feelings; she makes them share what I assume she meant while she was crafting those pieces.

A query that stuck with me was where the title originated from because I witnessed more faith than fear. Fear, I’d argue, is a fairly low-lying feeling I encountered throughout the entire collection, and therefore I wondered why it was also proclaimed in the title.

The bottom line for me is that East of Faith, West of Fear is a well-crafted debut poetry collection.


Featured image by Bilali Ishimwe

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2 comments

Explore Lise Nova's Debut Chapbook, 'East of Faith, West of Fear’ - Writers Space Africa-Rwanda August 14, 2023 at 9:54 am

[…] READ: East of Faith, West of Fear by Lise Nova – A Review by Sandra Nadege […]

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Songa August 29, 2023 at 7:36 am

This is amazing!

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