Review Of Crimson Skins, Devika Mathur – Kristiana Reed — September 3, 2020

Review Of Crimson Skins, Devika Mathur – Kristiana Reed

Devika Mathur is loved and known for her celebration of the abstract and surreal; she plays with words like toys and bites into them like ripe fruit. Everything Mathur yields is original and unique. Even when her voice is so reminiscent of Sylvia Plath, she remains a woman and poet unto herself, through and through. Crimson Skins is a testament to Mathur’s talent; through poetry and prose her brilliance is depicted again and again.

The opening to this collection is stunning. Immediately after a dedication to her mother, Mathur establishes the foundation of looking inward and skyward. You are swiftly taken by atmospheric pieces like ‘Olive skin’ and ‘I die each night’ as Mathur paints worlds and portraits with emotions. Whenever I read Mathur I imagine kaleidoscopic colours tinged with shades of grey as she documents love, hope, grief and depression.

In this way, she is a Plath for the modern age: the line “You’re putting your body in the bath-tub, almost like dying in peace.” from ‘Four walls’ recalled the beginning of The Bell Jar. Mathur’s voice is fresh yet ancient with history and as a result there is such a depth to her work that I admire. Pieces like ‘A Self-portrait’, ‘Life blooms’, ‘Silhouette’, and ‘A thing about Winters’ are prime examples of this; they are examples of an attempt to toe the line between living and sinking.

“My windows ache with heartbreak” (How I burn and survive)

“I keep things safely like the moon keeps tides” (A collector of things)

The inward reflection in this collection is beautiful in the way it is expressed and explored. On one hand, Mathur explores reflection, depression and loss through the seasons in poems like ‘Ode to November’, whilst on the other hand, at times her experience is incredibly relatable like in ‘The routine’ and ‘The art of silence’. But alongside this darkness there is a sensual and sultry layer to her writing – ‘Talks with night’ is gorgeously sensual, whilst ‘To you, darling’ and ‘All at once’ are stunning examples of Mathur’s love poetry.

“she entraps the sky in her fingernails” (A goddess)

Mathur’s prose is sensationally written too. ‘How I have been’ is phenomenal and demonstrates a side to Mathur’s talent I would love to see more of in the future. She captures life and soul so eloquently and honestly.

Finally, Crimson Skins comes to an end with pieces like ‘Mother, I see you’ and we are reminded of the dedication at the beginning – we are reminded of the power behind Mathur’s work and her womanhood. This collection is a debut to be reckoned with as it superbly portrays who Devika Mathur is; a force of poetic nature.

Crimson Skins is available through Amazon.com, Amazon.com.uk, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble, and other major online book retailers.

Shipping to some countries may currently be delayed or unavailable due to Covid-19.

Nicole Lyons’ Review of Kindra M. Austin’s Heavy Mental — March 11, 2020

Nicole Lyons’ Review of Kindra M. Austin’s Heavy Mental

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Within the pages of Heavy Mental, Kindra Austin lies, and she lays her heart out for all of the world to feast. And feast, we do, on this, the pinnacle of her soul’s work.

To say that Heavy Mental has catapulted Austin and her work into the same literary sphere as Plath or Cohen or Atwood is as true as the sky above and our souls below. And I, a ride or die fan from the get-go, am both excited and afraid to see what she will publish next. Because in all reality, if I were to take my last breath in the morning, Heavy Mental is the perfect literary swan song for me to go out on, with my only wish being that I had written something as brave, as ugly, and as beautifully honest myself. I don’t know how she’ll ever top this one.

Heavy Mental is a lifetime of hurt and hope. It is unconditional love given wholeheartedly under the strictest conditions. It’s a child grieving and a mother coping when death and drink and every ugly aspect of our lives pull up a chair to join us at dinner. Heavy Mental is depression and addiction, the unending cycle of it, the tide of it, the winds of it, the elements of all of it that erode the foundation of families and filter inside the smallest souls. Heavy Mental is grief and acceptance, love and devotion, anger and fear, and Kindra Austin writes all of it absolutely fucking spectacularly.

In Heavy Mental we take Austin’s hand and wade into her world of unconditional love and soul crushing sorrow, and just when we think we can’t take anymore, Austin tightens her grip and pulls us in to the deep end.

With surgical precision, Austin carves her truth into our hearts. Her wordplay is steeping in irony and glorious in wit, even when it’s quiet and contemplative in nature. And I think that’s part of her gift – the silent punch of it all. Heavy Mental is a memoir birthed in love and delivered in honesty, and everything about the book is perfection.

Austin does not mince words. She doesn’t write to stun, or to shock, or to please anyone. She writes only to tell her story, and shed the weight of it all, and in doing so, in shrugging off any attempt to pander to readers, she has written something so extraordinarily beautiful and breathtakingly honest that I’m not even sure she knows what she has done.

Heavy Mental is not only one of the best collections I have read this season, I’d wager it’s probably one of the best collections I’ve read, ever. Kindra M. Austin is most definitely a writer to watch out for, and Heavy Mental is by far the book to grab this year.

—Nicole Lyons, The Lithium Chronicles I & II


Heavy Mental releases in March 2020. Stay tuned…

Kindra M. Austin Reviews Kristiana Reed’s Between the Trees — May 14, 2019

Kindra M. Austin Reviews Kristiana Reed’s Between the Trees

My reflection in the train window settles

between the trees

beyond the glass

lining the field of gold.

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In itself, the opening of the title poem speaks of forlorn reluctance, wishes, and wonders. It must be because there’s something so powerful and intimate about one’s reflection; we study ourselves and pick up every nuance, whether we want to acknowledge ourselves or not. As I continued to let the verses unfurl, I wondered if Kristiana Reed had written this poem for me.

Between the Trees, as a poetry collection, is a heroic tribute to Self. I say heroic, because self-discovery is a demanding journey that many of us often quit, or never even begin. What strikes me most is that Reed brings her vulnerabilities to light without abdicating a single fiber of her resolve to persevere in life, “I want to reach inside myself/and find perennial blossoms, /butterflies, and next times” (Perennial Blossoms), and in love. “I want to listen to bird song/and reminisce about love, /about your touch” (Reminisce).

On the surface, Kristiana Reed’s poetry appears to be delicate, but don’t be fooled by a simple glance. Within these pages, you’ll find countless chasms to explore. This body of poems and prose is certainly Reed’s body. It is her mind and soul. I hope that when you read Between the Trees, you take the time to contemplate her truth, and perhaps apply this level of honesty to your own life.

 

Between the Trees releases this week, and will be available globally on Amazon. Links to come!

Do You Write Reviews Book Reviews? Indie Blu(e) and the Go Dog Go Cafe want them! — April 15, 2019

Do You Write Reviews Book Reviews? Indie Blu(e) and the Go Dog Go Cafe want them!

We all know that Amazon has become persnickety about publishing book reviews and that they have been blocking many folks from leaving reviews as well as removing many of the book reviews that you have taken the time and consideration to write.

Indie Blu(e)and Go Dog Go Café would LOVE to publish your book reviews! They may not have the same reach as publishing on Amazon or Goodreads would, but publishing your review on IB and/or GDG will introduce both your writing and some great books to a new and appreciative audience.

If you have written a review that you would like to have considered for publication, please email Indie Blu(e) at indieblucollective@gmail.com with the following:

• the review itself in a Word Document (preferred) or in the body of the email (fine)
• an image of the book (your reader images of the book are always popular)
• your name EXACTLY as you would like it to appear with the review
• a brief biography and/or links where readers can read more of your writing.

IB and GDG are happy to publish reviews that are already published on Amazon and/or Goodreads to increase their reach.

We will let you know if your review will be published and send you the links for sharing

Book Review: Kindra M. Austin’s Twelve, by Mariah Voutilainen — December 7, 2018

Book Review: Kindra M. Austin’s Twelve, by Mariah Voutilainen

Kindra Austin’s Twelve continues where Constant Muses left off, rich and intense.

By Mariah Voutilainen

After having read Constant Muses, I eagerly awaited the release of Kindra Austin’s Twelve.  I expected more of the imagery of Muses, with its cigarette smoke and endless cocktails.  While those common threads are there, Twelve favors the much more potent darkness of decay and memento mori.  In Twelve, Austin further exposes the connection between the corporeal and spiritual that she began to explore in Muses, through an emotional dissection of the year of grieving on her mother’s death.  And I felt it was a grieving ‘on’, not ‘over’:  she rests upon each painful moment of remembrance and exposes it to us fully, unapologetically.  It is that straightforward voice, plainly truthful, that compelled my own visceral response—and while I cannot fully describe in words how I felt, I do know that I was hit hard.  Austin forced me to look on the truth of death and how it can rip, how it can physically fragment those left behind.

Make me a whole person,” she writes in “An Emotionless Affair,” referring to the cracked-open ribs, bleeding hearts, vomit-stained sheets, bile and pus, immolated bones and disembodied flesh of the other poetry in the collection.  No therapy can put together what death has rent.  Still, Austin knows she can find a semblance of whole-ness in the act of writing, even as she despairs the loss of her mother-muse: “Who am I, if not a writer?” she asks rhetorically, in the poem “Your Absence is a Burglar.”  “Mother what am I supposed to do?  I’m so fucking tired of writing about you./But who am I, if not a writer?”

“Anyway, Always,” demonstrates the exorcistic role writing plays in Austin’s processing of death and steps toward healing:

Mother mine, I know your truths; yours are mine,

and I will defend them,

always.

I will make your ghosts and mine scream in terror.

Austin is her mother’s champion, but there is another who champions Austin.  She prefaces her work: “But dark as my days have been, there is one who keeps me tethered to the light…”  There are bright moments among the desperate ones.  These are found in “For My Truest of Loves,” “You Remind Me,” and the nuptial “Wedding Poem” all of which celebrate her own treasured daughter.  On many levels, dark and light, I saw the redemptive qualities of the fierce love between mother and daughter.

This book has overwhelmed me, it has slayed me with its truths.  Those were the thoughts that came to mind after consuming her book.  I don’t use the word “consume” lightly:  I ruminated as I read; her thoughts were nourishment for that part of me that ponders death.  Yet I felt as if my heart had been splayed open:  I didn’t know if I should cry, or just bear witness.  I admired and wondered yet again at Austin’s willingness to reveal herself, her assuredness that her readers would catch those emotions and cradle them.  That we could hold space for them, keep them safe, disperse them or preserve them.

Twelve is available on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.


Mariah Voutilainen, co-editor at Indie Blu(e), writes poetry and prose about all manner of things at www.reimaginingthemundane.wordpress.com.