Review of Chiara Maxiaʼs “Flirt”
“Iʼve been waking up early to the sound of the first hummingbirds
the bruises on my skin in the morning light glowing.”
These are the first two verses of Chiara Maxiaʼs poem “Intro”. They open her debut poetry collection Flirt and set the scene for the following fifty pages of love and longing, dreams and observations. Balancing between moments of pure zest for life and gloomy, brokenhearted musings, Flirt is the beautifully captivating diary of a young woman who grew up in Italy but calls the world her home.
Itʼs no surprise, then, that traveling is one of the central themes of Flirt. The short, poignant poems violently pull you out of your home to transport you to faraway places. From “an island where I could see the pink flamingos on my bus ride to school” (“Pink Flamingos”) to the capitals of Europe, the reader adopts the role of a curious traveller with an eye for the wondrous details that make up everyday life.
“Iʼve been found and again lost, Iʼve been wandering around,” Maxia writes in “Intro”, perhaps the most overtly personal of her poems. “My heart synchronises with the rhythm of the wheels rolling on the European motorways,” the young author observes in “Away, Away”, then uses the phrase “a girl with no homeland” in “London-Berlin”.
All throughout the journey that is Flirt, Maxia proves her ability to create lively atmospheres and precise moods with few select words. She focuses on details, yet through them paints general pictures of places and situations you will surely recognise from your own life—be that the busy streets of London or the daily walk through a slightly rundown neighbourhood in wherever-exactly.
This characteristic also shines through when Maxiaʼs writing switches focus to notions of emotional distress. The collection in its entirety is a rollercoaster ride of emotions, jumping from the joy of falling in love to the dark hours of heartbreak and then right back into the light. Each description, each observation, is expressed through carefully chosen phrases that make the reader see well-known situations in a brand new light.
“Keep on looking at me, take pictures with your eyelids,” Maxia writes in the titular poem “Flirt”, making expert use of metaphors to capture the magic of falling in love. Elsewhere, the author addresses the other end of the mood spectrum. “Iʼve been walking through the town, desperately looking for idols,” she summarises the sentiments of a generation in “Intro”, while a poem with the melancholy title “A moment in Paris” includes the eerily relatable phrase “I donʼt remember being ever truly happy”.
Flirt is a journey. A journey through Europe and through the myriads of emotions we experience every day. A journey through the often-overlooked details in life and through the dreams and wishes we donʼt dare speak aloud. Read the short poems one at a time, depending on your mood-of-the-moment, or read the entire collection in one sitting. One way or another, do read Flirt. It will hit close to home, while at the same time broadening your horizons.
Christoph Büscher hails from a sleepy seaside town in the north of Germany. Having lived in the UK for a time, he now resides in Berlin, where he is currently busy torturing students as an English and Biology teacher. Once all lessons are planned and all exams are corrected, he spends his time writing lyrics and diving head first into the exciting depths of pop and country music.
Chiara Maxia was born in the Italian island of Sardinia. After graduating from high school, she moved to Tuscany, Russia and the UK. She started her acting training at age fourteen, studying both in Italy and in England. In 2018 she published her first poetry collection “Flirt”. She now lives between Italy and France, where she studies film acting and takes part in various creative projects.