“For the first time, I saw a way out and it was beautiful.”
Many known poets were older, for the simple reason, by the time they become known they are either dead or have lived many years. Kristiana Reed is one of those exceptionally gifted writers who like Mary Shelley, was able to find her words almost the moment she came into existence. Kristiana’s writing is an essential oil, a fluid balm and a world within and outside our own. I say this because the sheer eloquence of one so young, is unfamiliar to most of us, but if you think about it, poetry is the life blood of the young and passionate. “You see in a forest like this, people discover the tastes, smells and person they choose to call ‘Home’.” (Thousand-Year-Old Forest)
There is something outstandingly honest, immediate and alluringly fragile about a young poet. A jaded person may say we only have within us, a short space of authenticity and emotion before we age out of that intensity. I cannot agree but I do see an indefinable courage in the young, an ability to SPEAK IT in a way fewer older poets are able. Kristiana writes with the purity of her heart and nobody can turn away from that. In this generation of Tweets and soundbites, Kristiana’s work stands out from the crowd because she’s not framing her words into pithy quotes and Facebook memes, she’s writing our world through her eyes, she’s spilling herself onto the page in careful strokes and cadence, this fascination is permanent not illusionary. “We talk about / how the jigsaw edges of my heart / fit perfectly / in between your fingers,” (Waxing Lyrical).
In addition, Kristiana she has many things going for her as a writer; her command and mastery of the English language is superlative, I know this because I’ve seen how well she edits others work. She has an immense knowledge of writing, a breadth of her own which exceeds other poets three times her age, a cleverness which I think we’ll admit, all poets must possess if they are to knock our socks off, and her beautiful interpretation of feelings juxtaposed against the natural world, are so vivid, I find myself in her universe time and again. This is her gift; she literally pulls you in and takes you there. “Sometimes I wonder / which would be better: / death or insomnia? / Because I cannot / withstand the in-between.” (Hanging Moon). In understanding that precarious position of possessing dreams but feeling tormented by them, Kristiana gives words to that hard to describe place of wishing for consciousness to end.
Only someone who has exquisite writing skills can indeed hope to do this, and few modern writers know how to write as well as they think. Kristiana is an old soul in fresh skin, she not only possesses that classical fluency, she can also tap into her generation and have the necessary immediacy required. I haven’t met Kristiana but I feel I have through her writing, which is perhaps the greatest gift any writer can hope to achieve. She lays herself on the page, it is unbelievable to imagine she’s only been writing five years, I would have said her entire life thus far, and I have no doubt she will now, always be a writer. “I think the people around me hate me. / For resigning myself to this bench with my ghost.” (Red Tutu). We assume those closer to literal death can understand the shift between being and ending but many times the young have a clarity of vision we lose as we age, and as someone older now, I can read in Kristiana’s words, a world I also saw, reminded through her words, exactly of those moments. You can live a lot in 25 years and a little in 100. it’s all about the intensity of observation and feeling.
Kristiana’s work vacillates between being both raw boned and fine like porcelain, it is because she is a master of weaving words together and using incredible imagery to evoke her thoughts, but she also knows how to ‘say it’ without falling into the morass of too much detail. That is a fine line to walk and one few poets master this in their life time. Take the line; “Two strangers, with sunset hearts” there is such a simplicity here, yet it is anything but simple. It is well thought out, original, evocative, lyrical, blending natural world tempo with feeling. “my toes, sinking into dew jewels / and blades of Winter’s heartache. / The seat, shrouded in shadow trees / reached out for lovers.” (9am).
This is the core of poetry at its best, where the poet can inhabit that strange place between ourselves and the earth and do so with apparently no effort, though we know it takes something you cannot learn, you are born with it. It is uncanny how Kristiana is able to do this as such a young age, but then again, if you are born with this talent and possess the feelings, this is exactly when you would begin to dazzle and flourish. “We curled into each other’s lives / as if wisps of bottle blue smoke” (A Lullaby)
I have always been a huge fan of English poets and Kristiana’s work is very English. This is a compliment, she has the alacrity and clarity alongside the depth and passion we love of authors like Emily Bronte, Edna O Brian and Mary Webb. Her earthiness is her connection to the countryside and its beauty, she breathes her world into her redhead words and leaves us enraptured. I have such a huge quantity of respect for this young woman, not only because I genuinely relish and admire her work, but she is such a hard worker, so committed, thoughtful and passionate, and I think people like that galvanize the whole idea of poetry. They are necessary for all of us and yet they are rare, because it is so hard to have balance in poetry and one’s personal life and yet this is exactly what Kristiana outwardly projects.
If she were a dancer people would say Kristiana had that indescribable poise and that is how I read her work. There is such a bewitching gravitas to her insight, anyone at any age could learn from her, as she learns from herself in her revelations. Hers is a journey you wish to take; I find myself searching out her latest posts online and that is surely a sign of a poet worth reading; “There is a video of me / aged nine / with bobbed red hair / one finger in the air / waiting for the magician / to spin a plate.” (Aged Nine). The photography within this collection acts as a wonderful buttress to the magical word play, she spins throughout and her signature balance is found.
I respond to poetry that is like an incredible song; it moves you; it takes you, captures you, replaces reality with itself. A dream within a dream. Truthful like a mirror hung over your day; “I convince myself every morning / that I’m worth a reflection” (Being Myself). Kristiana’s work reminds me of the incredible band Daughter, their lyrics are much as hers, completely nimble in their intrusion into your core, and speaking of ordinary things in extraordinary ways, until you realize, the ordinary is the extraordinary.
All magical witches of poetry, have a certain addition to their writing style, it’s that Kate Bush wistfulness, the ebb and flow of combining the natural world with evocative, unused word play that forces a passion from the simplest things; “snuff out the life / under your collarbone.” (The Meadow).
This is the ability to see from nothing, a universe that others pass by, to make something of that observation, something we recognize in our marrow, and force from ourselves, an emotion we didn’t know we had. “She grew cold in her rapture / held by a pin prick of light / already dying and yet / in the watercolour pools of her eyes, / the night sky had never looked so alive.” (Inky Heaven). It is only when you can summon those signs and symbols you can truly be a poet, and Kristiana Reed, with her youth, her vision and her wisdom, has set the gentle night on fire with her simmering passion, filling us with “ink and hope; / breathing / in spite of the world.” (Damsel).
Between the Trees by Kristiana Reed comes out on May 19th 2019. It will be available on Amazon globally.