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Shame Is An Ocean I Swim Across

A collection of poetry by Mary Lambert: Book Review // TW: Sexual Assault, Mental Illness, ED

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In case you're wondering who Mary Lambert is, she's a singer, songwriter and spoken word artist (featured here on Button Poetry TW: Sexual Assault). Most notable for her feature on the Macklemore & Lewis song Same Love (but I highly recommend checking her music out because it is underrated).

Lambert’s second poetry collection Shame is an Ocean I Swim Across touches on the multifaceted nature of shame through poems reflecting her experiences with sexual assault, body image, mental illness and trauma.


To say I liked this book would be an understatement considering I spent the past year and a half carrying it around in my purse everywhere I go.

Mary Lambert has written one of the most cohesive collections I have read, each poem emulating how shame manifests itself within us throughout our lives.

What I enjoy the most about this collection is how Lambert’s tone throughout is personal and she uses language that is not overly-complex despite tackling conversations that are anything but easy.

One of my favourite poems from this collection is I Know Girls:

"I only ever know how to exist when I’m wanted // girls like us are hardly ever wanted"

- excerpt from I know girls (body love) / spoken version below

As someone who has struggled with body image and self-worth their entire lives, Shame Is An Ocean I Swim Across has several poems depicting how it feels to hate what you are and feel as though you are at a constant war with society.

Reading through the book feels like you’re sitting on your best friend’s back patio at one a.m., several drinks in, unloading everything that has weighed you down. She speaks to readers in a way in which they’ll see themselves in her stories and know that they’re not alone.

The only thing I would note that I didn’t like about this collection is that there were one or two poems that were a miss for me because the metaphors within them seemed too abstract for the overall style of writing, but you have to appreciate her vulnerability regardless.

There’s also an Audiobook version, and trust me when I say listening to this book is an entirely different experience on its own. If you like listening to poetry more than reading it, I definitely recommend this one!

I recommend this book if:

  • You find most poetry collections intimidating or hollow

  • You struggle navigating through body-positive culture and getting over your own self-perception

  • You want a good book to read


hi, thanks for stopping by!

I'm Todo, a twenty-something-year-old confessional poet and semi-professional over-sharer.


I decided to start sharing my poetry on Instagram in 2019 and it was the best decision of my life!


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