I have always considered Austin and words a marriage made in heaven. With each release, whether it be poetry or a novel, she has continued to astound me with her talent, command and honesty. Once again, with Heavy Mental, Austin has bared all but in a way I have never seen before.
Austin has opened up her soul even wider with the inclusion of her first love in this collection, illustration. Dotted between autobiographical snippets and household favourites, such as ‘Someone Told Me I Was Queen’, are drawings: self-portraits, loved ones and the speaker’s anatomy.
There is also a charm in how Heavy Mental feels less polished than previous collections yet retains the same power; if not more. A journey exists but it is far more flawed, without a clear beginning and end. The poems fluctuate between different states of being and as I read, I wondered if this is perhaps Austin at her most human.
I see the poet in the lines:
“In the backyard of a house/ no longer painted green,/ crabapple trees ward the ghosts of me.” I Drive A Funeral Wagon Drawn By Two White Horses
“I’m only a miscarriage of wishes/ and wisdom” Ice Frozen Miscarriage
“I wish I’d taken emptiness/ and made it into/ hope.” She Wore Emptiness
But, overwhelmingly, I see and feel a woman. A woman who is holding a kaleidoscope up to the light, turning and turning the coloured fractals until they form into something she might recognise.
And so, once again, I have fallen in love with the pieces and the power of Austin’s work.