Love and poetry go together like a bard and his red, red rose—and no better way to enjoy Valentine’s month than with a little lust, eroticism and reminder that neither are reserved for the young or heterosexual. MOIRA RICHARDS shares her thoughts.
As the titian-haired faun on the cover suggests, Larissa Schmailo’s collection limns the life of a lover—a lover who is a lusty lover of life too. The opening piece catches the first 12 Fibonacci numbers and finesses them into giddy remembrances of an octogenarian’s most significant birthdays. Then, as Fibonacci sequences do, the pages of poetry spiral with the 89-year-old, ever outwards, or perhaps inwards, towards her infinity.
Stream-of-consciousness narrations, witty footnoted asides, plays with parentheses and fonts, prose poems, list poems— they all fill in on the special character(s), subject of the book. The last section introduces the once successful poet, Ritar (“Ritar had had her 15 minutes of fame, many times over”), bottomed out, no longer “wave… disturbance in space-time… Cambrian explosion of creativity.” But she is still in control of her own infinity. Schmailo’s poetry sucked me into/out of its golden spiral.
Two White Beds: Millie and Sam
This discreet, pocket-sized chapbook, winner of the publisher’s “Daring to be the Woman I Am” contest, comprises eight poem letters sent to “Dearest Millie” by Samantha at intervals during the year running from June 1882 to June 1883. All but one, perhaps two, were ever posted. Interleaved between them, are seven first-person musings by the respectable Miss Millicent in which the poetry touches on the unexpectedness of their love, on their self-imposed separation and their eventual decision to live a life together.
A deliciously period piece, subtly erotic through its imagery of full-blown peonies, perfectly ripened fruit, and feastings on oysters by young women who, outwardly, will present themselves to the Victorian English world as merely two of those ubiquitous “harmless maiden aunts / arm in arm along the boardwalk.”
Cloves & Honey
Kildegaard set out to write a love poem every day for 365 days – I’m inspired now to try and do the same. Then she revised and selected a quarter of the untitled poems to craft an ode to a three decades long, happy, marriage. Divided into four sections, matching the seasons of a year and drawing often on the images of nature, each became my new favourite as I read on through this celebration.
Understated eroticism and long-ago new beginnings in the poetry of spring; a languid sense of repletion suffuses the summer; the poems of autumn marvel at good fortune, recognise its ephemerality; and at the last, poems in which winter’s freeze is held at bay as two fifty-year olds (children grown and flown) divide and share the small chores and routines of their domestic life.
These are the lies I told you
Modjaji Books, 2010
I’m a sucker for a great cover and, happily, the insides of books usually deliver on their outside promises. This, with its hot pink letters lying flat on their backs, is no exception. The poems run page over page to create a lusty tale of seduction, sex and falling in love; and heartbreak and love again and … well, you didn’t think I’d give away the ending?
Hammerton’s poetry tells the stories poets have told since back when – stories we never tire of living and reliving especially when told new. Her light, sometimes witty, sometimes understated control of words, make this telling deliciously new.