Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc: Review
Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc by David Elliott. is a collection of poems told in rhymed and metered verse that tells the story of the legendary Joan of Arc. i received this at Comic Con and was so ready to dive right in. I’ve always found Joan of Arc to be a fascinating and mysterious historical figure, and I was sure that this form of writing would provide some beautiful insight into the woman.
Author David Elliott explores how Joan of Arc changed the course of history and remains a figure of fascination centuries after her extraordinary life and death.
Told through medieval poetic forms and in the voices of the people and objects in Joan of Arc’s life, (including her family and even the trees, clothes, cows, and candles of her childhood). Along the way it explores issues such as gender, misogyny, and the peril of speaking truth to power. Before Joan of Arc became a saint, she was a girl inspired. It is that girl we come to know in Voices.
Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc is a short book of poetry that contains poems from the points of view of the people and animals in her life, but also the inanimate objects. It’s an ingenious way to engage with the history of a figure that most people might think they know, and inject a new perspective (in this case, many new perspectives) to add dimensions to a voice that has only been known in history by what others have recorded.
My first reaction after reading this book was, “Wow, that was short.” My second reaction was, “Poetry is not for me.” Now, I don’t know if it was this specific collection of poetry or if that’s just not my thing in general, but I had a difficult time with this book. Don’t get me wrong, the book was a quick read and the poems rolled off the tongue effortlessly. However, I didn’t feel that any single poem stood out to me individually. They were each well-written, of course, but almost seemed forced in the way that they needed to conform to rhyme and meter.
I also did not care for the poems from objects’ points of view, like a candle, a dress, and a tunic. To me, they seemed like superficial literary tools, and ultimately unnecessary to expanding on Joan’s story. I didn’t think they added any insight or dimension to the life of this young woman.
Ultimately, while I could appreciate Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc, it just wasn’t for me. Maybe I’m too dense to understand the “point” of the voices of the inanimate objects, but I wish the voices represented in the book did more to illuminate Joan of Arc. At the end of it all, I’m not sure that I was left with anything new that I hadn’t already known from other works or from a textbook.