Since beginning Brave and Reckless in 2016, becoming a member of several collectives, a founder member of Indie Blu(e) and establishing herself as an editor, Christine E. Ray’s presence on WordPress and online has been keenly felt. It comes as a surprise then that Composition of a Woman is her debut poetry release. However, every single page proves it was worth the wait.
Ray’s patience, passion and growth are revealed the further she pulls you into this book. Her approach to a structure which resembles her anatomy is ingenious and comes to reflect the woman, writer, editor and powerhouse she is.
Nerve is a hilarious and moving ode, if you will, to invisible illness. For me, it meant this book was personal too. I’ve watched my own mother struggle with a spinal condition which isn’t obvious to a stranger. Therefore, my first thought when I heard Ray’s experience with pain and mis-diagnosis was ‘I need to give this book to Mum’, so she knows she isn’t alone.
Brain, no doubt deliberately, made me think. Safekeeping felt all too familiar and the final lines of Brilliant Madness made me consider the peril of an artist and their pain. Often art and pain feel mutually exclusive. At times we wonder where we begin and end.
‘jagged little pharma
sitting on the kitchen table
that may save my life
this brilliant madness’
Ray continues to speak to the soul in Breast, with absolutely beautiful pieces like The Attic Room, Amen and Saturday Afternoon Poetry. From hilarity and darkness, we are given sensual and love sick. We begin to understand the myriad of experiences which shape a woman.
One of those experiences is heartache and heartbreak as Ray shares the pain behind her Rib. Chasing Sandcastles, Memento and the forlorn sigh inducing I Say That I Lost You.
‘I say that I lost you
as though you were an umbrella
that I carelessly left on the bus
after the summer rain had stopped.’
Ray does what every excellent poet must. She writes from experience and yet writes your story as well.
That said, it is the closing section of this book which left me breathless. Blood is a testament to all that has gone before. Each body part and experience led to this denouement; this showcase of a woman. I know her now – her pain, suffering, love and loss – which is why Wonder Woman is filled with clarity. Ray is a woman conducting an orchestra while openly admitting she isn’t perfect. There is dazzling beauty in her ability to lift your spirit and reach beyond the book, calling for your blood and belly fire.
Needless to say, I read this in one sitting and finished it smiling. The final two poems resonate with every writer and reveal how much this book means to Ray; how it truly was, worth the wait.
Signed copies of Composition of a Woman are also available on the Sudden Denouement Etsy site.