Crowned Showcases Hagan’s Poetry

Melanie Rovinsky

Ellen Hagan’s debut poetry collection, Crowned, effectively merges the pulse of city life with the rhythm of the Kentucky countryside to create a body of work that is earthly and compassionate. Hagan takes her readers on a journey into womanhood, delving right into the heart of her personal experiences with childhood, puberty, and maturation. Crowned brings together issues of love and loss to deliver an honest portrayal of what it takes to truly transcend life’s heartaches.

According to Hagan, an integral part of growing up is forming an identity. In “Questions,” Hagan writes of the difficulty in figuring out who you are when there are so many factors to consider: How whole am I with all these separate parts? In “Puberty – With Capital Letters,” Hagan describes the rollercoaster from adolescence into adulthood as being characterized by Regret. Pure Bliss./ Uncovering. Feeling not good enough. Cockiness. Joy. The collection of poems moves further along the process of female development in “Plan B,” when Hagan speaks as a thirteen-year-old girl who has gotten pregnant and thinks of Sixteen ways to kill [herself], and maybe two ways to kill him. Towards the end of the book, Hagan’s growth takes place in the areas of work, technology, politics, and family. She writes honestly in several poems about the struggles of her students at P.S. 315. In “PS Education,” Hagan wants to Take all the metal detectors apart and build imaginary cities with them so that her 7th graders can build a utopia and walk around in it. Hagan’s collection is pure and tainted, beautiful and ugly, allowing her poetry to truly capture the essence of growing up.