In the afterlife There is always something to do pick up the leaning umbrella before it hits the window, leaving a tell tale smudge clutter. Le désordre le bruit, le fatras, a manic for the mind seeking calm in Upton’s Jungle where only heat bakes rocks inedible cushions flattened by visitations, last nights vestige reminds […]Immutabilité – Candice Louisa Daquin — FREE VERSE REVOLUTION
I reflect, confect, arabesque, meditate cogitate rèflexions in the mirror opaque, convex, invert, perverted lips leaving stain, tea-cup, coffee-mug, wine-glass your underwear torn, scattered like poppy seeds what shall we give birth to? When the time comes to see clearly? (It never will, we are chimeras of body dysmorphia, we inhabit false hope, blind faith […]Reflections – Candice Louisa Daquin — FREE VERSE REVOLUTION
I am editing another Anthology in collaboration with CrossTree Press called The Kali Project.
If you are an Indian woman Poet/Artist (or you know of one who may be interested, either in India or internationally) please consider submitting work to The Kali Project. This anthology is a collection of poetry, prosetry, and artwork from women of Indian heritage, in response to the courageous determination of Indian women to gain full equality in India.
Subjects to consider writing about include but are not limited to: Feminism, equality, political upheaval, women’s-rights, sexual violence, LGBTQ rights, gender identity, violence, marriage, concepts of Indian female identity, inequality at the workplace. Change.
The Kali Project is open for submissions until October 22, 2020.
You can submit up to THREE poems and THREE pieces of artwork.
Please submit poems with your full name as the title in Word.
If you are interested in submitting for the front cover of The Kali Project your painting will be considered for the front cover and/or inside the anthology. The cover will be color. The inside is black and white. All artwork needs to be able to be reproduced in black and white.
Please note CrossTree Press is a women-run, discrimination-free publishing house based in the USA. The Kali Project will be published in Winter 2020 and will be available via Amazon in Kindle & Print format.
Any questions / or for submissions please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I think of you as I might
the collected soil outline of a beloved plant, died in Wintered frost
slow the creep toward perish, I hold back, I do not want to enter that room
with its antiseptic smell, lolling tongues of linoleum stretching like vast desert
here nothing thrives
not you, in your beige iron bed with metallic purr of machines overhead
nor the sucking out of sight sound of life being apportioned and gentle knock and brush of clutter off stage
I have learned to manage my desires, like labeled things put away and forgotten
they seem inconsequential in the gravity of this moment, elongated into a maw, disabusing itself in perpetuate howl
the green eyed girl who sat astride you devouring your skin with the hunger of the famished, is just a filament of memory, drowsy with being taken out and examined many times
what is real feels false, we fall apart with rules, we are well behaved in chaos
as rain falls, drowning response, we are free briefly, to call for Gods who are sleeping against their fatigue of us
I look down at my fingers entwined in memory, carving the halls of you with journeys taken to your very core
wish I could write like a girl who didn’t need to rinse her eyes of salt and her mouth of violence
there are no mirages in this sterile land, only the abundant hygiene of fear, roasting itself on impotence
here even you, are forgotten to yourself. I wonder if you recall how we were or if
this eclipsed reality, so suffocating and tightly arranged, is your only memory
occasionally I want to do something vulgar and wrong, to break the dreadful count-down
call an old lover, meet them in the broom closet for some rearranging of clothes, we don’t know how to handle things, so we explode quietly inside ourselves
just to feel I am not plummeting alongside you
faithless for sure, my brand of lusting for life and wellness, anything but encroaching perishment, we fear dying even as we seek it
apparently I am not alone in this
strangers will swap bodily fluids in desperate snatching, on top of folded doctors overalls. That strange, nameless brand of green we all loathe
I was a false girl before we met, learning to reign in her impulses against a backdrop of damage
thriving under the rental of youth with no care for those far-off dates waiting in distant wings
life was already its own brand of unbearable, it felt yet, too searing to imagine decrepitude or bad luck
instead, thrive on the daydream, liquor up the inside of your nightmares and send them galloping and sweaty into the abyss
rest in the drowsy arms of indifference, for everyone wants something and nothing is as it seems
until blinded or crippled, you crawl to your date with the inevitable
hearing your ancestors crow their dissatisfaction at your cliched rejection of fate
compassion doesn’t cost, but as I stare at the vacancy in your eyes I know
i’d say yes to the proffered ease of escape
yes to anonymous lovers and things to someday regret
but not now whilst we stand under the radiance
when life still reigns and I know how to squeeze from it, that ounce of pleasure
not hedonist but survivor. Some survive in the calm shallows
I want to wade waist deep in warm water, feel your touch bringing me back to life
not forget what it was to circle the varied heavens and their demands
nor the feeling of my heart in my throat, birthing color and chaos in equal order
I imagine you as you were, impossibly alive, bright in ways that hurt my eyes
our dance around the mandala of us, ever decreasing, unawares of our own diminishment
your last words lingering in pre-storm humid air, like fruit left a little long in sun
sticky and soft we meld together and break apart with the astringent sting of broken clay
turning again to earth, as if it had never, not once, not even in dream
I would like to be
a bit more toward normal, ordinary, unnoticed
because when we hold hands
bubbles appear above their heads
they say without moving their mouths
she’s a lesbian?
what a shame.
a terrible loss
I bet her father sexually abused her
surely some man really mistreated her
don’t you remember how strange she was as a kid?
Do you think she watched me closely when we went swimming as teenagers? Gross!
I always thought she looked at me in a weird way. didn’t you?
I feel uncomfortable around her, (she’s not like us).
And so I do not
book double rooms in some hotels
for the stares of receptionists cleave my good intention into bitter twine
I do not cup your hand in mine on every street
sometimes I let go, when I see a certain type of glance
I see their flickering of disgust
read like braille, the unsaid words
Disgusting waste of a female!
Around their pursed ashen mouths
as they talk about their dishonest children
as they talk about their cheating boyfriend’s and husband’s
the new grandchild, the latest form of contraception you
don’t even have to take it every day.
Even Plath and Sexton might have
raised an eyebrow and shuddered it was
so deeply entrenched to be judging even among
fine minds. When I read about you Radcliffe
I clutched the paper so tightly I thought I tore
your very sentiments out of print into my
aching lonesome chest.
I wear my hair long as a justifying act
I don’t use communal changing rooms
in case you think I’m looking at you, or worse, why
aren’t you looking? Why didn’t you desire me? IS
a woman who loves another woman supposed to
be the poster child? I don’t want my photo published
next to your intolerance and dissatisfaction in
your moldy marital beds just leave me well alone
I’m doing my thing, it’s not part of yours
don’t flatter yourself, just don’t flatter yourself
you’re not my type.
I know what you think, when I say I’m a feminist
you think; well those types usually are
I want to buy you flowers and bring them to your office
I want to propose a wedding no-one would attend
because people don’t think we’re the same as they are
we’re just girls who haven’t met the right guy
wounded, unnatural birds with confused identity
our parents lament us like Thalidomide babies born
without limbs, bespoken to no-one
if they could, they wouldn’t talk about us at all.
I couldn’t go to some countries, with you on my arms
they’d stone us for who we are
and I’d carry the stones in my mouth and walk into a lake
before I expressed my shame
my shame at being natural
and not quite
natural enough for
Sometimes there is an unbuckling of
temper and fear and loathing
mixed into indigo and strewn
in furied air
we pick it up as
a smell long forgotten
taps long dormant senses
and despite the years, regain
a moment mislaid
your arms doused with powder
glittering like another being, turning,
you, spectral and otherworldly
an afterglow of fiesta, a street
littered with signs of party goers
their tossed colors, a mélange of remembrance
we grind and mash and rearrange
clothes strewn in multi color love letters
on unpolished floor
seeking to find in electrified connection
that dizzying light
buoying briefly from surface
telling of depths few venture
where usually we rest, bobbing and sailing
absent of passion, thinking like the face of a clock
about slow steady movement, predictable pauses
spasms only in the imagination
or when a familiar song stirs a disquiet
whilst below, in regions beneath our reach
gained access through mutual need
briefly like the flick of a match
sets sulphur stalking cold corridors
only there, unbeknownst to the world
and her grave tick-tock visage
we earn closer, sloughing skin, molecules
separating individuals, ages, castles, skies
until on the windswept summit we fall
clutching each other in entreaty and relief
fading from sight, resisting wholeness
only then, your damp hand caught
somewhere inside me, my bruised
lips smarting with the pressure of
cascading into earths center
do we know a place that is only ours
where we are pre-Denisovan and
holy, beneath the candle of a human’s
little watched life
that shallow wick, curved in entreaty
for meaning, for Gods, for monsters
and your rounding stomach, wet with tears
salt and oxygen and loss like a tableau
of everything, a table set for two
we sit obedient and fatigued
the lines of us, drawn before we arrive
breaking outside the cast, little cracks
with the fixation and vexation
of mortal love.
Recently I had the great fortune to interview one of my all-time favorite modern poets Kristiana Reed and here, alongside her interview, is a short of her reading one of her poems from her second collection of poetry, Flowers on the Wall. This collection came out yesterday and can be purchased here.
Candice: You have a background in Classics and you write a lot of very high-quality poetry that pays homage to your learning. Do you feel that helps you as a writer? And if so, how?
Kristiana: Thank you. The fact my degree is in Classics has afforded me a knowledge of mythology, of empire, of how history repeats itself, of the beginnings of poetry in the oral tradition, and of some of our earliest poets (Sappho, Theognis and Hesiod). Consequently, I find myself alluding to the past, our legacy and ideas which perhaps enrich the poetry I write. I think I’m very influenced by Homer’s descriptions of nature, Ovid’s darkness in Metamorphosis and Virgil’s idyllic landscapes in his Eclogues and The Georgics. This said, the study of Classics is very Westernised and Eurocentric and is therefore limited in this sense; I would love to learn more about the ancient empires in the East such as the Abyssinian and Persian empires and explore the literary tradition which was born there.
Candice: What inspired you to write poetry over say, prose or some other art form? Was there a specific genesis or was it almost an outpouring that became something more formal?
Kristiana: I still write lots of prose but I am more confident with poetry. I have a love for the brevity in poetic storytelling and I am insecure in regards to prose and the development of plot, characters and action. Poetry was my way to write about my Nanny’s (Grandmother’s) garden (which I still refer to as a fairy garden) and my way to express moments of fear, indecision and love as a teenager. I was told I was good at writing poetry from a young age so I guess I stuck with it and I remember my A-Level English Literature teacher telling me even my essay writing was poetic. It was never a conscious decision but I’m happy with my choice.
Candice: Who influences you as a writer/poet and why? This can include any type of artist or non-artist – explain what about their output influences you.
Kristiana: Again, I have no specifics here as such. I am an avid reader and I absorb storytelling. I remember images or phrases for years so sometimes these become a starting point for me when writing. Musicians are an influence – I have vivid memories of sitting cross-legged in my bedroom, aged twelve, reading the lyric book inside the CD case for Avril Lavigne and Evanescence. Even now, I often judge a song based on lyrics because for me they are just like poetry. Lyrical poetry was poetry set to a lyre; nothing much has changed apart from whether we pair our words with music or not.
Kristiana Reed reads one of her incredible poems “Tattoos for the Living” from her collection Flowers on the Wall
Candice: Your work is very pastoral in some respects, something I deeply appreciate as modern poets often stay in the navel-gazing pews and you are unafraid to really stretch outward into any genre. But your appreciation of the pastoral stays with me because you really know how to bring to life your surroundings. Do you feel where you live has influenced how you write?
Kristiana: I have always got lost in my surroundings and this stems from childhood. Already I have mentioned my Nanny’s garden which was a constant and burgeoning with blooms (I could easily watch the seasons from my slide on the lawn). My favourite memories are often associated with places and so I felt such freedom when I moved to where I live now which is an area between the town and country. There is a wheat-field at the end of my garden, woods a short walk away and the quay. To me, the natural world is magical. I always thought I was magical in these places and I guess I still hope to harness this feeling of hope, space and joy. I would also argue the cycle of nature is the best metaphor for life.
Candice: I noticed how prodigious you have been since Covid 19 and your wonderful movement of writing a poem in response to a poem that inspired you – almost daily. Do you find moods change your writing or are you able to work through any mood and produce solid work despite how you feel? Was it always this way? Is discipline in writing something you learn or something you are born with?
Kristiana: As a teacher, from the moment lockdown occurred in the UK, I was secure in my job. This meant I could work from home safely and found I had more time in my day. No longer standing in a classroom for 4 – 5 hours a day, I began to write more often and then the ‘on Reading’ prompts were created. The process of sourcing these poems and then sharing my responses with people and reading their pieces has been wonderful. I’ve had to teach myself the discipline of writing every day or every few days and I am aware that come September, this discipline will give way to full-time teaching again. So, in short, discipline is taught. I do not believe any one is born disciplined. In regards to different moods, I’ll often try to harness it where I can and let it fuel the work. If not, I’ll cheat and post a poem from my first collection and unashamedly plug it that way…
Candice: Do you see a future for poetry once we get over our immediate love affair with online memes? What does poetry bring to 2020 and going forward that prose does not?
Kristiana: I think the argument ‘online poetry is nothing but memes’ has been raging for so long I’m not sure it is even valid anymore… It is a very cynical view of a community which thrives. Through my use of social media platforms, I have met talented, fascinating and brilliant people. I’ve had the pleasure of reading collections I would never have discovered if I had stuck exclusively to my local bookshop. I think we are too quick to belittle online communities for what they are, communities.
Mainstream media will tell you the boom has come from Kaur’s Instagram poetry and for some reason we should be ashamed of this. In fact, whether you agree with the accounts boasting thousands of followers for two-line statements, who are we to judge what is art for some people? The fact an audience exists suggests people enjoy it and I’m not prepared to sit on a high horse and extoll what we should and shouldn’t be seeing from poetry. Poetry is an artform and thus subjective. It is a different entity to prose and so again, I do not think it will be anything more than prose will. I often read several books at one time – novels, poetry collections and non-fiction. All genres have their merits and reasons for why we should get lost in them. Life is far too short to get caught up being critical about how others consume art.
“I have learned so much about editing, designing and formatting through the process of creating and releasing two collections. It means I am perhaps prouder of them because I know how much of myself I have put into them beyond the written words.”
Candice: Bravo. well said. I completely agree with you! How has teaching influenced your writing if at all and what would you eventually like to do with your writing if you had the chance?
Kristiana: Directly, some of my poems are inspired by interactions in the classroom and what I endeavour to achieve as an educator. Teaching English also exposes me to a lot of poetry from the poets we may consider the ‘greats’ which has helped me construct the ‘On Reading’ prompts each month since June. Eventually, I’d love to have a series of collections which very much chart the passing of time and how I will no doubt change and, hopefully, publish the novel I’ve had in the works for almost two years now…
Candice: What is the most important thing you have been told about your writing that stayed with you and helped engender your next step in being a writer of poetry?
Kristiana: Nothing necessarily springs to mind here… when I wrote poetry as a teenager I shared it with very few people. The moment I realised I wanted to be a writer of poetry and to share my work with others was in the early hours of a morning in 2016. I couldn’t sleep so I wrote. Then suddenly I had an urge to let what I wrote out into the aether, if you will. Thus, my blog My Screaming Twenties was born. I wanted to document my twenties (kicking and screaming). And actually, I’m glad it was an inner voice which drove me to take this step because I haven’t regretted it once.
Candice: How does building a community of writers versus FVR and other mediums, help you personally as a writer and what are your goals in doing so?
Kristiana: Taking over FVR from the wonderful Nicholas Gagnier has been so incredibly rewarding and that certainly translates into building up a community around myself. I know we often look at creating a platform and audience in the frame of ‘How can I market myself?’ when FVR and spending the last few months working hard to establish and maintain the platforms I have, has taught me the value of genuine connections with like-minded people. Sharing the work of others not only makes you feel good but it draws connections between yourself and others. I’ve found through putting the work of others forward, I’ve benefitted in a way which feels organic and true. In regards to this community, I may or may not be considering an FVR anthology on the suggestion of a regular contributor.
Candice: What inspires you the most in this life and why? Do you find more in darker emotions or lighter or is there some other force that lights your pen?
Kristiana: Inspiration definitely tumbles, falls and surges like waves. Sometimes darker emotions fuel my words and sometimes it’s a love for my partner or simply the slow movement of the Earth. It truly varies. I very much tap into myself as a source whenever I sit down to write. I think this is why I struggle with set metre and form. My work is more often than not an outpouring of a feeling or a moment or memory and thus I write freely rather than write to a pre-defined structure. I suppose in this sense I lack a certain discipline. Poetry is something I seek in order to not feel tied down.
Candice: I agree and feel similarly about meter and form for exactly the same reason(s) although I think it’s good to understand how to do it, then you have a choice, much like Picasso did when he decided to do less realistic (cubist) work, he knew all the forms and chose what worked for him. Would you consider Flowers on the Wall similar to your first collection, Between the Trees, or would you consider it a departure? Why?
Kristiana: The treatment of nature in Flowers on the Wall definitely echoes pieces in Between the Trees. Certain images reappear like a wheat field, meadows, the sky and the ocean. Yet, I would consider Flowers on the Wall a departure too. Between the Trees was the documentation of a journey from depression to acceptance. Although, I still very much experience bouts of depression and healing, Flowers on the Wall is what I would consider a poetry collection. This collection says more about me as a poet rather than a person. It has a maturity I was only just beginning to grasp with Between the Trees.
Candice: Both of your collections are self-published, can you describe this experience and share any advice you might have with those who are considering the self-publishing route?
Kristiana: Self-publishing can feel like quite a lonely journey. Unless you have the pennies to spare, you’re often your own formatter, cover designer, editor, agent, and, of course, publisher. Not forgetting the marketing which follows. But, this also means it can be incredibly rewarding. I have learned so much about editing, designing and formatting through the process of creating and releasing two collections. It means I am perhaps prouder of them because I know how much of myself I have put into them beyond the written words. My advice would be to research every element of the process, speak to as many people as you can who have experience, map out exactly what you wish to achieve and steps one and two should help you achieve this. Stay open-minded and be realistic; you will be constrained by how well you are able to do something so plans will change.
For the foreword written by Candice Daquin for this gorgeous book please go to Kristiana’s brilliant page on WordPress My Screaming Twenties
I leave a stain on my letter to you, with the tinny ring of my mug
tea left cold when you called and I ran out
following your voice like a siren, heedless of consequence
you are the devour of my hesitation, I hesitate never when you call
side-stepping consequence like a brothel, seeking your presence as a sinner
looks for absolution and a saint kneels until it hurts, my ache is so
deeply laid it could not be recovered, even if they brought chains
here, streets bleed violet in shuttered neon blink
nights deepest scold rests
we take the ferry out into pelagic wake
afloat on silence, illumination veiled
your forearms, muscular against thin wrists
beneath sturgeon moon we shift like light
particulate drawn by shivering lodestone
less tender than impassioned
time, her death-and-gloried face
far flung from our observance, no more
liturgy of unspoken entreaties
there are no other words for your mouth
it is placed on your face like a torment, a
famine to touch, never stop craving, its perfect
suddenly it is midnight on the water, my body
sore from your touch, we watch in hush
dark silhouettes take on life
their grave countenance
caught briefly by moon peel
as glossy as the pearl of your face
incandescent as we pass by
our hands entwined
we may be invisible compared to
the rest, but here, here we
So far, my favourite poem is by Jennifer Mathews: “What He Gave Away” on page 75/77 (depending on your version). It’s an honest narrative with a light touch, grounded in good childhood memories about her grandfather and then the reality of her grownup life and love, apparently at odds with him (‘Four years since I’ve been told not to visit”).
What’s difficult for some families to address or acknowledge tends to erase the person they loved from their minds – until, as in the poem, she shows up unexpectedly and can relate face to face with her grandparents, who actually welcome her back into their lives.
This situation is relatable and Jennifer’s grandfather is entirely believeable (and humourous) and the poem, with just the right amount of earthy detail and voice, ends on such a lovely, redeeming note (“I am back in the family”).
And it’s interesting to me too that the grandfather’s gifts of imperfect fruit, stale bread, wilting flowers suggest he’s able finally to take his granddaughter back into his heart exactly as she is, as we all are—perfect in our imperfections.
By Lynne Burnett.
To read more SMITTEN poets purchase a copy in time for the holidays and share this incredible project with someone you love. SMITTEN is available via Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Ingram for any independent bookstore. Consider supporting SMITTEN each purchase COUNTS and lifts up the visibility of 120 incredibly talented poets and artists who created this beautiful collection of poetry and art.
For the sake of SMITTEN, a project I believe in more than anything I have ever done before, I have asked close friends to take over my social media rather than close it down, so that SMITTEN can continue to flourish and succeed.
In my absence, due to my severe eye-sight-issues, my friends will be running the SMITTEN Facebook page and all SMITTEN related materials. Our goal is to ensure SMITTEN is successful in all ways. Sales are one way of legitimizing a project and ensuring its authors are HEARD.
Obviously LGBTQ projects are harder to sell than others, but it is my hope SMITTEN can continue its success through the rousing support of all those who believe in LGBTQ equality and the rights a woman has to love another woman. Please consider supporting SMITTEN – each sale helps raise visibility and gives SMITTEN authors another opportunity to share their unique and beautiful voices.
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