Foreword by Candice Louisa Daquin
“The old me
is no longer on the shelves
because let’s be honest,
she never existed.” (I will)
If you are an avid reader, can you remember every book of poetry or prose you have read? Of course not. Our memories require prompting. If we do not repeat what we have read or watched the night before, within a week that memory will begin to sink beneath the surface, much like an iceberg.
Once in a very rare while, however, a book or a film or a song will stay with us. This phenomenon is known as ‘being crazy about something’ much like being in love! Who can say what book will evoke such passions? One thing we do know, when something does, we carry it around like a tattoo.
In my lifetime I have a relatively small collection of ‘greatest hits’ encompassing my favorite books, poems, songs, art, etc. They are so beloved they become almost fetishized after a time, and like precious heirlooms we take them from place to place and share them with those we trust.
If you were to look into your heirloom box, what would you bequeath to those seeking the gentle succor of creativity and beauty? Think about it. Ponder and recollect those favorites and then ask yourself; why them? Just like love, you will find there is no logical answer, for logic is not the mistress here, passion is.
Passionately, then, I recommend to you the second poetry collection of Kristiana Reed. This young poet from England has literally transported me back to my teenage memories of England and the aching beauty of this green isle, with all its wonders and mysteries that only a native can truly give breath to. As with all the most beloved of English writers, Reed joins the ranks of the Brontës and George Eliot in her exquisite rendering of pastoral life.
But there is more. As with any multi-layered author, Reed can intuit the heady combination of emotion and nature and betwixt them together hypnotically. It is this magical combination, I believe, which permanently inks our subconscious with her lyrical poetry. And for this reason, she remains, one of my very favorite modern poets. She is quite simply, unforgettable.
If you are fond of authors like Mary Webb (Gone to Earth), Dennis Wheatley (To the Devil a Daughter) or Angela Carter (Nights at the Circus) or drawn to publishers such as Virago or The Women’s Press, you will appreciate beyond compare, the choreography and murmur of Reed’s original poetry.
As a child I read a great deal of English authors, like Alison Uttley (The Rabbits Dozen) or Joan Aiken (The Kingdom Under The Sea) and they retained in me, a love for nature and good writing, juxtaposed like old friends. Reed has the same sentimentality and knows how to wield her creative impulse just enough to evoke that evocative world.
Without requiring literal illustration, Reed paints her world and draws you in, to a deeper understanding of what lies beneath our skin, in our souls, our hearts, our racing pulse. There is sadness, hope and the mystery of living, all vying for our attention in her eloquent and often shockingly gorgeous writing.
Reading Reed’s poetry, I am often surprised, occasionally electrified and often nodding in admiration, for her uncanny dexterity as thinker and conveyer of universal themes. In this collection I especially appreciated her nod to those she loves, her recollections of love lost, and the more metaphoric questions of what it is to be human, to be female, how we identify ourselves as we evolve.
I recently purchased Kate Bush’s collection of song lyrics (How To Be Invisible) and read it just before I read Flowers on the Wall. In my heart of hearts, I wondered how Kristiana could reel me in after such a book, but she did, as she always has, with her mastery of the language and her attention to the smallest insights, combined together in an irresistible delight of wordplay.
If you want to go back in time and read a collection of poetry that fits in with your favorite Masters (and Mistresses!) then you’ve found the right book here, in Kristiana Reed’s world, where if you are willing to look up from your distractions, you will find alongside her, the unraveling gossamer thread of all things, playing in the sunlight.
Do not forget when you take this journey, you are reading the works of a youthful spirit, who has as much humor and mirth as she has darkness and shadow. She will keep you on your toes, for she is no push-over, she is a woman of substance and reckoning and her world is fierce and lovely both.
“you taught me how to read
an atlas and a face
to know my place
in this ever-widening world
you’ve always said is too small
for me,” (Grandad)
Flowers on the Wall will be released at the beginning of August.
It is Kristiana Reed’s second poetry collection.