Candice Louisa Daquin Reviews the Myths of Girlhood

Christine Ray is an extremely rare creature, seemingly transplanted from another age and time, in that she knows absolutely no bounds and will persevere through any obstacle and has the passion of a seventeenth-century bard in her poetic composition and expression.

In today’s saturated world of online bloggers most of us have read competent even exciting authors but few stay with us, underneath the skin. To achieve that, a writer must have captured the moon and control the tides. We live in an impermanent world where we change our fascinations as often as our clothing, loyalty, and fidelity are almost dead. For a writer to clamber from obscurity and retain our fascination seems a heroic feat, more often we have moments of desire for a certain writer and they are forgotten as the next one comes along. Commitment to their art may ensure a writer is briefly remembered again if they keep producing but readership is terribly fickle, no more so than online in the bloggers universe. 

Christine Ray even has a memorable name, but she’s far more than just a female poet writing like so many others, on WordPress and other sites, building her following. Ray is a creator, at once a beautiful mess of a woman and a powerhouse, dynamic in a very contradictory way, on the one hand, due to chronic health blights, she has genuinely struggled both physically and mentally, but despite this, or should I say, through this, she has defied the modern authors dilemma of being one of many on a continuum, and become a standout writer who you will remember and need to read.

I can’t say this happens often these days, most of my favorite poets are 200 years old, they lived in a time when the sheer pain of existing meant a tragic will lent their writing a poignancy you were unable to shake. In today’s fattened world I don’t see that level of intensity transmuted into writing, more often there are vain attempts to mimic those of old or replicate the sordid suffering of our idols and it is usually just that, a pale imitation. 

On so many levels, Ray is an original. Her work brands the reader with charged, unapologetic, stark and often exquisitely painful memories that don’t lose their potency overnight. The first few times I read a piece by Ray I didn’t continue through others blogs, I paused and thought about what her work made me feel, and that emotion stayed with me all day. She’s got that impossible quality that people would donate their soul to inherit, it’s not something you can learn in graduate school, it’s a pulse underneath the skin that few possess and it marks her as a serious contender for being unforgettable.

Having a book of Ray’s work in my collection excites me, her work leaves me like an addict, wanting more, it’s that simple and this, in a day when few authors can come close to achieving that alluring lasting quality. We live in a world that in many ways, has lost the fantastical and the unknown. We can get answers almost immediately, nothing is mysterious anymore, and therefore, when a writer can leave us breathless and disturbed, we cleave to them like shelter from an otherwise barren landscape. Such is the modern art world, few strike us through the heart or possess the raw talent to remain relevant and pulsating when it’s hard enough finding time to read poetry and locate its worth in our lives. Many who feel broken and have reasons for self-destruction, cannot weld the self-possession it takes to give voice to an unacceptable feeling or experience, yet Ray owns it with her wordsmiths alacrity she displays torment and survives it, bringing hope to burning wounds through the grace of her intelligent observations, pushing them from her deepest recess with no intention of going back.

Ray brings back my love of poetry, she throws it into an empty room and it proliferates, sometimes frighteningly, until it’s halfway down my throat and I only want more. A once in a lifetime author will cause you to become obsessive, you’ll never truly get enough, and you’ll forget your other lovers. That’s how I feel upon reading Ray’s work and I am certain of one thing, she’s only going to keep surprising us, because despite everything, she lives for her art, and it shows, in the sheer force of her will to write it out, and touch us with her fire. She alone can create a cage, set a stage for madness, tattoo a feeling, gut an emotion or twist my psyche with an uncanny awareness of what makes us tick. If we know everything then the only thing left is what we make of the fallout, and Ray is the mistress of revealing what lies beneath us. 

In this ability to represent our deepest emotions, Ray reminds me of the classical poets whom we adored and emulated, she is the original from which we follow and yet, she is desperately relevant to today, because she inhabits the now with the tongue of yesterday. This first published collection is an exquisite rendering of Ray’s kaleidoscope of work themed around mental angst, PTSD and the unbearable lightness of being, cleaved from her chest cavity. She wields her deft needle, threading gorgeous imagery, ghosts, voids, screams, immeasurable psychological depths and carved beauty in one breathless gathering of work. Read her. Want her. Need her. 

The Myths of Girlhood is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble Online, and Book Depository

Candice Louisa Daquin’s own life, traveling from her native France, via England, Canada and finally the US, has brought a myriad of experiences that others have often been able to tap into via her writing. A collection of lives really, and with this, she tries to weave greater meaning through poetry and touch those who experience similar questions, doubts, and hopes. Surely this is what writing attempts in its very human form?

Daquin’s themes include feminism in its complex, everyday form, and the experience of being a woman, a gay woman, a bi-racial woman, a bi-cultural woman and finally, a Jewish woman of Egyptian extraction (Mizrahi) and how this sits with the world’s current revolt between the dominant faiths.

You can read more of her writing at The Feathered Sleep.

Book Release: The Myths of Girlhood

Indie Blu(e) Publishing is thrilled to announce the release of The Myths of Girlhood by Christine E. Ray.

From the Back Cover:

Imagine that Myths of Girlhood is a tapestry; feel the varying textures, and observe the movement of its patterns. In your hands, you hold the fibers of Christine E. Ray. For this book is much more than an arrangement of words. Myths is an experience—an exploration of madness and strength of will, illogic, and rationality, all of which coexist inside a woman who is unafraid to let her soul speak.

We were introduced to her exquisite truth-telling in Composition of a Woman. Myths of Girlhood is not a mere continuation, but a glass breaking roar.       

The Myths of Girlhood is available on Amazon in print and Kindle versions.

On “The Myths of Girlhood” a poetry collection by Christine E. Ray Reviewed by Rachael Z. Ikins

With an intense almost Gothic darkness, reminiscent of the novels of Ann Rice, “Myths of Girlhood” entices us into its pages. Christine Ray references familiar fairytales, song lyrics and expressions from childhood as she leads us from a place of mental illness, through the pain of the growing-up years into self-discovery. We deal with the past by putting it down again and again.

Through her use of strong, stark imagery we look in the mirror with the poet and face ourselves and all the monsters who maimed, the demons we’ve survived, and the dragon who longs to burst out of her self-actualized breast to embrace her freedom.

Ray’s elegant poetry tells us 3D stories of a real woman’s life. We root for our hero as she tears off layers. Grows into herself. Names herself; poet, boss, lover, mother, SURVIVOR and with a small, two-word line as loud as a thunder-clap, “my own.”

Rachael Ikins, author of the award-winning poetry collection “Just Two Girls,” (claresongbirdspub.com) and of poems in the anthology “We Will Not Be Silenced” (Indie Blu(e) Publishing)

The Myths of Girlhood will be released January 2019 by Indie Blu(e) Publishing

Basilike Pappa Shares Her Favorite Indie Books of 2018

Name: Basilike Pappa

Where you post your writing: I post on my blog Silent Hour
and on Sudden Denouement – A Global Divergent Literary Collective

Publications: My prose has appeared in Life & Art Magazine, Intrinsick, and Timeless Tales, and my poetry in Rat’s Ass Review, Surreal Poetics and Bones – Journal for Contemporary Haiku.

A sentence or two about you & your writing: I live in Greece, where I don’t work as a translator, a copy-editor or a historian of the European Civilization. I write poetry, short prose and folktale re-tellings. A touch of darkness, humor and sensuality are among my favorite writing elements.

My favorite indie books of 2018

Title: Anthology Volume I – Writings from the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective

Where it can be purchased: Amazon

What I loved about the book and why I think you should read it: If you’ve come across the collective on WP, you know what these writers can do. The Anthology holds some of their best poetry, prose and short fiction in its pages. An uninhibited exploration of what it means to be human, through different voices, different forms and styles. Reading this book once is not enough – you will return to it again and again, always finding something new.

My Star rating: 5

Title: Composition of a Woman

Author: Christine Ray

Where it can be purchased: Amazon

What I loved about the book and why I think you should read it: It felt warm, as if the writer was sitting right there in my living room, sharing parts of her life with me over a cup of coffee. And it was addictive: reading one or two poems a day wasn’t enough. ‘Oh, just one more.’ And when I finished it, I still wanted more.

My Star rating: 5

Title: For You, Rowena

Author: Kindra Marie Austin

Where it can be purchased: Amazon

What I loved about the book and why I think you should read it: I loved Austin’s voice. It has freshness, it has style, a sense of humor, good doses of truth, and unexpected twists. But telling you more would mean giving you spoilers. So read it and see for yourselves.

My Star rating: 5

Title: Leonard the Liar

Author: Nicholas Gagnier

Where it can be purchased: Amazon

What I loved about the book and why I think you should read it: It made me think, it made me feel. It made me put myself in these characters’ place and wonder what I’d do if I were one of them. Reading it was meaningful. The story stayed with me long after I reached the final page.

My Star rating: 5

Basilike Pappa lives in Greece. She likes her coffee black, her walls painted green and blue, her books old or new. She despises yellow curtains and red tape. She can’t live without chocolate, flowers and her dog. Places she can be found are: kitchen, office, living room. If she’s not at home, I don’t know where she is. You can find Basilike up late with a notebook in the Silent Hour.

Michael Escoubas of Quill and Parchment Reviews We Will Not Be Silenced

Editors: Christine E. Ray, Kindra M. Austin, Candace Louise Daquin,
Rachel Finch
163 poems, essays and art, 326 pages
Price: $12.99 Print Format, $4.99 Kindle Version
Publisher: Indie Blu(e) Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-7328000-0-7
Library of Congress Control Number: 2018913952
To Order: indieblucollective@gmail.com
Reviewed by Michael Escoubas

The tone is set by Susan Conway’s essay, Bearer of the Sky. She chronicles the terror and long-term trauma of a girl abused by her father beginning at a young age. It is impossible for this reviewer to hold back tears. I use present tense to indicate my reaction as I return again and again to her words. Conway’s essay should be prefaced with, “What you are about to read may be disturbing.” The most telling line among many, “My body is MY BODY, you don’t get to hurt me anymore.” Indeed, this entire collection of poetry, prose and art is specifically designed to be disturbing, and rightfully so.

IMAGES

Poet William Wordsworth has written, “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” The remarkable writings contained in We Will Not Be Silenced are the work of skilled poets who have taken the time to feel and think about their pain. As they take pen and journal in hand they write from the overflow of reflective thought translated into some of the most powerful poetry this reviewer has ever encountered. Throughout the work compelling images and other poetic devices drew me in, kept me interested and brought forth the tears alluded to above. As you become absorbed in the pathos of these poems (and you will), look for a “little nest of sparrows,” in Rachel Finch’s The Innocence is Haunting; “little white go-go boots,” in S.L. Heaton’s poem by the same title; “an old sack of bones,” in Secrets, by Hanlie Robbertse. Keep turning the pages until you find the horror of a Back Alley, by Cynthia Bryant and “girls huddled close together like a rack of pool balls,” in Home Safe, by Lesléa Newman. I return to Conway’s “This is MY BODY, you don’t get to hurt me anymore.” So often within these poems, the victim is alone, without resources, with no one she can trust with the telling of her experience.

ARTWORK

We Will Not Be Silenced is punctuated throughout with poems superimposed over pictures which speak every bit as loudly as the poems which accompany them. In Heaton’s The Morning After, a pretty girl is leaning against the window sill seated at her classroom desk. Terrible things had happened to her the night before, things that were not her fault. Even so, she is dealing with “judgmental eyes that watched a slut ride the bus to school the morning after.” This work of art moved me as did the picture of a little girl, not more than four or five, holding her freckled face with both hands in Jamie Lynn Martin’s Little Girls, “she does not want to be the object of your lust.” The volume, as a whole, is laced with the power of words in tandem with equally powerful works of art.

TITLES

Titles in We Will Not Be Silenced stir adrenalin compelling readers to WANT to read every poem. Here is a sampling: The Innocence is Haunting, Not a Comma, Don’t Say a Word, Safety at Age Eleven, Thirteen, When I Say I’m Ticklish I mean I Am Scared of Men, My Body Remembers, Old Man Hands, The Quilt, I hear a Robin Sing, The Pros and Cons of Being this Heavily Medicated. As I read through the entire anthology I noticed strong unifying themes: the victims share ongoing trauma, self-doubt, in many cases self-loathing and isolation. I’ve selected the poem below as representative. It needs no commentary.

When I Told
Cynthia L Bryant

When I told my mother
she said
“Do you feel guilty?”

When I told my aunt
she said
“I’m not surprised.”

When she told her husband
he said
“I wish you hadn’t told me.”

When I told my uncle
he said
“Gee that’s too bad, but that was a long time ago.”

When he told his wife
she said
“Too bad something wasn’t said while he was living,
so he could have defended himself.”

When I told my cousin
she said
“There was a rumor of it in our mothers’ family.”

When I told my husband
my father had sexually abused me throughout my childhood
He held me while I cried.

After reading this poem, your reviewer cried too.

Having grown up free of abuse and the toxic environment that envelops the courageous victims who step up and speak out in this incredibly well done anthology, I am visited by a fresh loathing for those who abuse power and change forever girls and women too vulnerable to fend for themselves. At the same time, I am encouraged by those who walk in light and hope within the community of the redeemed who declare, We Will Not Be Silenced.  

I return to where I began with Susan Conway’s tone-setting essay,

“I have faith, that one day you will emerge into the clearing that is the knowledge that although your abusers tasked you with the charge of holding up the sky, the entire Universe now revolves around you. Blessed Survivors, may you lean into the healing hard, may you step into the magnificence that you are. Bearer of stars, and moons, and mystery; sacred, sacred, sacred you are.”