The Echoes of Dominus: Navigating Through the Poetic Journey of Tiffany Troy

Reviewed by Kalpna Singh-Chitnis

by Tiffany Troy
Aug 2023, ISBN: 978-1-60964-441-3, Paperback, 118 pages

I don’t remember reading any poetry collection dealing with myriad themes and with such intensity and gravity like Tiffany Troy’s “Dominus,” which explores themes of conflicts, identity, family, relationships, and the passage of time through personal and cultural lenses.

I loved the opening of the book with the poem “Shalom Moon” with historical and mythical references, like Moses splitting the sea and Mark Twain. This poem draws you into poet’s heart, which desires peace and harmony associated with the moon. The moon described as a “Moon Shiner” and “Moon Breaker,” creates dreams and magic the poet wishes for.

“When Ilium Burns” is an important poem in the collection suggesting personal and emotional turmoil, akin to the legendary destruction of Troy, which leaves an impact.

”Hymn to My Fair Lady Boss“ may resonate with anyone who has dealt with workplace dissatisfaction, power dynamics, and personal ambition. This poem is a complex web of literary and cultural references and conveys a sense of inner conflict and struggle for recognition or significance important to the poet.

In Troy’s poetry, readers can sense yearning, frustration, and the desire for a different life while recognizing the challenges and uncertainties that come with pursuing such dreams. It explores themes of societal expectations, ambition, and the complex nature of personal aspirations.

In the poem “Wedding-Bound Million-Dollar Dream,” the poet seems to feel pressure in the first section of the poem, to conform to societal norms, such as getting married and having children.

“While people around me are getting married and having kids,
I am chained to the bottom of the sea,
“A start,” they say. What fools they are, like you.
I’ll get married before you, that’s for sure.”

The idea of a “phoenix rising” hints at transformation and overcoming adversity, but there’s a sense of skepticism or irony in the tone.

When the phoenix rises, we will no longer be pariahs pinned to the wall for our lousy
copied-and-pasted work. The troubadours will not sing of Master texting

the Defendants’ counsel about “shaking the mango tree.

In the third section, Troy expresses a determination to leave her current environment and find a better, happier life, though the desire is underpinned by sarcasm.

I swear—soon—we’ll leave
evil ladies tugging at men’s shirts behind garbage bags in treeless streets
and go to where the summer is even hotter
than the hellfire of New York.

In “Before the Sea Stirs” she tries to find beauty and inspiration in the everyday world, cherishing moments of wonder, and embracing one’s desire for a meaningful life while recognizing the potential obstacles and challenges that lie ahead.

…because I want to do good as I walk briskly in the month
that leaves like a lamb, to attempt to see the sublime before the sea stirs 
in between Scylla and Charybdis, each cast in chiaroscuro.

Troy surprises every time with her complex and introspective exploration of her inner thoughts and emotions, particularly in the context of relationships. In her poem “At my Trial,” she mentions an authoritative figure referred to as “Master.” This poem is divided into five sections, each revealing different aspects of the poet’s experiences and emotions. “Master” suggests a powerful dynamic. There is an underlying suffering and a facade of happiness in this poem.

Aristotle told me to smile like Oz Vessalius
in Pandora Hearts, and I smiled habitually
and waited in vain everlasting.

The poet contemplates the idea that life and survival are essential for creativity, using references to historical figures like Socrates, and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

There are several poems in this collection that stood out for me, such as “Little Maria Wants to Take a Nap”, “Sunflowers” with its childlike innocence and confession, and the tender “Sunspot”:

Pollyanna, your smile would always be the sunshine after the storm
even when years later it also became the storm.

“The Queen of England” deals with racial and gender stereotypes and struggles against the expectations of a rigid, possibly prejudiced, professional world while “This” stirs in a gentle way and leaves the readers reeling with a nostalgic feeling.

I specialize in disappointing
people I love,
“What if I cannot do this anymore?” “Strong up,” Master texts me,
but I do not know that yet, as I close my eyes

“A Twinkie’s Love Song” is a mosaic of historical, cultural, and literary allusions, portraying a narrative of suffering, identity, and endurance. Troy metaphorically identifies herself with a Twinkie, and explores themes of pain, survival, and the desire for transformation. She clings to the symbolic Twinkie as a beacon of hope for survival and metamorphosis, despite recognizing its artificiality—a “sweet white lie,” making this poem a poignant cry for understanding and an expression of the universal human desire to be seen, heard, and to endure beyond the painful constraints of our reality.

You don’t get over the book after reading it—it stays with you, haunting the corridors of your mind with its raw emotions. Tiffany Troy’s verses demand reflection. They resonate with our own experiences and struggles. Each poem serves as a conversation, a moment of introspection, and a testimony to the enduring power of the written word. In Dominus, we do not simply read poetry; we live through it, and in its echoes, we find pieces of ourselves staring back, compelling us to confront both the beauty and tragedy of our own stories.

About the reviewer: Kalpna Singh-Chitnis is an Indian-American poet, writer, filmmaker, and author of six poetry collections, including “Love Letters to Ukraine from Uyava” (River Paw Press), a finalist for the “2023 International Book Awards” presented by the American Book Fest, and “Trespassing My Ancestral Lands,” forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Her works have been featured in notable journals worldwide, and her poetry has been translated into twenty languages. She has received a nomination for the Pushcart Prize. Poems from her award-winning book “Bare Soul” and her poetry film “River of Songs” archived in Lunar Codex travel to the moon with NASA missions. A former lecturer of Political Science, she’s also an Advocacy Member at the United Nations Association of the USA. Website: