Book Review: Kind Chemist Wife: Musings at 3 a.m., by Sarah Bigham / Reviewed by Candice Daquin — April 29, 2020

Book Review: Kind Chemist Wife: Musings at 3 a.m., by Sarah Bigham / Reviewed by Candice Daquin

Kind Chemist Wife: Musings at 3 a.m.,  by Sarah Bigham

Review by Candice Louisa Daquin

This is a book about many things. In essence this is a book someone who has chronic pain or any chronic condition will find a great deal in. Any woman also. Any lesbian. Virtually any human being if they are willing. It’s a universal book about a life. Sarah Bigham asks in her introduction; What is truth? Truth may be malleable but she’s most certainly able to access it within Kind Chemist Wife; Musings at 3am. The first time I read this title it was in Bigham’s biography and I thought it was such a gentle term of affection for her wife, which has gone on to seed her creation.

Bigham is covering a long time period, from hometown, student, campus, professor and her exploits otherwise. This all needs to go together to fully tell her story. This isn’t just poetry, the majority is prose or prosetry, and as such you need to do more than flick through to find your favorite poem, it doesn’t work like that.

Bigham is clearly a highly intelligent writer. You might think aren’t all writers? No. By intelligent I mean she brings things up we know, but in such a way it causes us to think more on the subject at a deeper level. This works really well with poetry of course but she’s also able to employ it with the unpeeling layers of her prose. “There is silence behind those doors now. Joy must be easier to embrace than pain. And so it will always be.” The seemingly simplicity of her observations are anything but.

If we tell our stories, the secret question is always, why would anyone want to hear? If we are ‘famous’ then it’s expected a certain portion of people may, but what if we are just us? What makes a life story of a stranger interesting? I would say the obvious answer is relatability but equally it can be the candor and courage of the storyteller. In Bigham’s case, she has a clever way of landing a point with something we can all envision, as with the story of her birth, ending with ‘I can almost hear the drill.’ It is both macabre, and highly human.

Funnily enough reading Bigham’s life you would imagine her older than the ‘middle aged woman’ she describes, as if her memories are older than the 48 years, she’s inhabited this earth. This speaks of chronic pain more than anything, even when relatively still youthful, people who experience chronic pain may experience time differently and feel at 48, much older than their years at least physically. I could feel this in the aged quality of her memories, not a bad thing but a part of who she is as someone who is never free of physical pain.

This leads to Bigham asking questions of certainty; What is true? What is certain? Can I ever be as certain as someone else? For a highly intelligent woman, it is hard often to place certainty in position of immutable and not feel it will shift. Bigham’s memories are very kaleidoscopic, they have less order than poignancy and as such, this is a disordered foray into a person’s 48 years of living and of their memories of their ancestors, which makes it a larger story than just one person, covering a multitude of topics, but always able to boil down to what really matters.

Coming from highly educated parents, less common in 1972, Bigham has excellent recollection of memories most of us would have long forgotten and as such, is able to illustrate with great alacrity, the landscape and vividity of her childhood especially. As she says; “I have always been quirky and find that I am often dealing with people who blink at me. My wife tells me this is because people are still processing what I have said. I am sure I am exasperating.”  Her frankness is endearing despite her insistence we might find her annoying, I suspect we’d find her a relief from the faux world beyond.

If you are expecting a linear, well compiled and ordered series of memories that lead to a definite conclusion, Kind Chemist Wife: Musings at 3am will utterly disappoint. This is far more in the realm of By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept”, written by Elizabeth Smart the journalist, inspired by her romance with the poet George Barker. Why? Because the interject of Bigham’s wife’s thoughts about how others will see her, the going back and forth without specific order of thought, it’s more a phantasmagoric method of imparting than sequential, it’s a highly female and somewhat old-fashioned brute honesty approach in the vein of those thoughtful writers of old before technology gave us editor. Whilst some may be dismayed at this, I have found, these types of books are the most beloved, for their diary like bluntness and how we can climb over the social norms at get to the marrow of what is being imparted.

Clearly Bigham relishes intellect and it is both her haven and her confidence, as well as what she is attracted to and proud of in herself and others. But I am glad kindness also becomes a part of this story, for without it, we may only be reading about precocious childhoods and odd-girls-out and not get more from the story. Most of us would have let go of the pains of childhood and not even recall them, but there is a nostalgic value to recalling those slights and what made us, us, if you are able to, because you get a better sense of why you are who you are. Bigham’s prodigious memory is uncannily able to color in the myriad detail of her youngest years. You can tell Bigham loves to write, and is able to write on near any subject, she is also not always aware of when she may over-explain or over-tell a story, which we are all guilty of at times, but in this, it’s like having a conversation with your best friend.

Additionally, the story has little structure so at times it can be hard to hold onto those memories with the same cherish the author invariably does. But understanding how people become role models, or indeed, stop being them, elucidates childhood at its most focused and that in of itself holds value. As Bigham says; “Spending time in other homes taught me a lot about people in general.” This is one other way she’s able to elucidate on subjects with such honed skill. She has always been as much an observer as able to relate her observations. “I never felt I really belonged to anything” may sum this up best. For what does someone who feels on the periphery do? But pay attention to what everyone else is doing and how it makes them feel?

There is definitely a sad quality to this memoir as well as a lonely one, perhaps evoked best by descriptors such as; “social cannibalism of high school.” For those who struggle to fit in, who feel they know more than others and this is unappreciated, or who simply love to find out how others think and feel, this coterie of stories by Sarah Bigham will appeal and read much like a collection of letters from a favorite relative. Even if it’s not our own family we can learn and appreciate from the recollections of others. Furthermore, there is a universal message about children with disadvantage (her chronic pain) and how despite that, we can flourish and nay, excel.

I would be dishonest if I did not say, I am deeply drawn to the poetry in this collection for the simple reason that poetry is always original and it is harder for prose to be quite as enticing, or as thrilling, much like comparing a song with dancing without music. But that’s my bias. Sarah Bigham’s ability as a poet is extremely high, and she employs beautiful words to add to her recollections such as in the poem Inheritance where the word ‘gloaming’ a relatively unused, classical poetry word, is absolutely perfectly situated.

Her smarts are wholly evident (“Words have always been my utopian refuge”) in poetry where you cannot afford to run on and must be clever and concise. Lines like; “With a passion you had held in your diaphragm.” You cannot help but be spell bound by this clever woman’s tongue. Each little detail such as ‘freckled hipbones’ really raises the hairs on your arms, because it’s like she’s right there, seeing into you and everyone else. That at times horrifying but certainly uncanny ability as a poet really shines in this collection.

“I am forgotten — / in a mint green examination room / with yellowing stains in the / pitted corners of the vinyl flooring, / overhead lights / winking at the joke.”

I was also struck by Bigham’s comments on today’s writing marketplace and her universal question; “How many submissions, for and by women, may be rejected because there is nobody reading these submissions with an eye toward women’s experiences in the world?” This is a necessary, wider question beyond the scope of the book, which hints at the lethargy for truth from women by women in our publishing industry at large. I felt very proud of Sarah Bigham for having the courage to speak this truth, and I hope as more women do, what is considered publishable, and valuable, will shift to greater inclusion of fringe voices, which incredibly, still contain women despite our 51 percent of the population.

It horrifies me that a woman of Sarah Bigham’s awareness, or for that matter, any woman, irrespective, should be mistreated by our medical system so appallingly. However, having experienced the same biases and taints myself, I can attest to Bigham’s sorrowful recollections of discrimination and labeling by doctors. For anyone who has gone through ‘the system’ or any system that has a patriarchal bent, this book will resonate with you.

Pain Warriors are all very well but that’s if we make it. Bigham’s honest recounting show the fragility of this and how so many probably do not. It is both heartbreaking AND necessary to be aware of what women like Bigham experience and how our system fails them and despite this, they carry on. If that were the only value to this book it would be enough. Of course, it is but one of many. As Bigham says; “Stigmas be dammed.”

There Is No Manual for This, The Ologies and The Purse, are my favorite prose stories in the collection, for their embodiment of survival, humor set against suffering, unsaid love, and its quietude of daily life and the very great pains and joys that accompany them. There is such a pure, fierce courage in those words, it makes me want to know Sarah Bigham and her Kind Chemist Wife and hear all her musings at 3am. “The spots on my mother’s hands (the ones she says make her look old) that are part of the gentle hands that have hugged me for years and intertwine with mine when we walk together these days.”

Bigham reminds us of what matters, and also of what does not, in a flawlessly frank and at times extremely emotive book that is brimming with quiet immemorable value.

You can purchase Kind Chemist Wife: Musings at 3 a.m. direct via Amazon and through other independent bookstores.

For updates on Sarah go to her Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/Sarah-Bigham-101883001439012/

Sarah’s website is: http://www.sgbigham.com

If you are a fan of GoodReads consider leaving Sarah a review: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52191096-kind-chemist-wife

Sarah’s work can also be found in SMITTEN published by Indie Blu(e) as one of the talented poets part of this incredible female-only anthology about love and relationships.

 

 

Candice Louisa Daquin Reviews Nicole Lyons’ The Lithium Chronicles Vol. II — December 18, 2019

Candice Louisa Daquin Reviews Nicole Lyons’ The Lithium Chronicles Vol. II

The Lithium Chronicles Volume ll.

What happens to a writer who began to write to make sense of life, as she evolves as a human-being? Does she stay the same? Does her writing change? Add to this, the liquid mercury of emotions that push and pull that writer in myriad directions. How does this reflect upon her, the human? And how does that translate into output? In Burn The Pages, I Dare You, we see Lyons at her best, using emblematic bleeding wordage that outlasts the moment and sears into our brains; “They burn those women into memories, / inside barrels, and outside of libraries. / They write stories about / women like her, the kind / of women in the kind / of stories that make the driest / bones wet and the holiest knees bleed.” Is it any wonder she had literally forged her own fierce brand of warrior chant?

Nicole Lyons can go months where there’s nothing to throw her off-kilter and then, seemingly in that quietude, a raging flashflood comes out of nowhere and she’s upended. She has never had the surety of emotions many take for granted, maybe this is why bipolar writers captivate the rest of the ordinary world, because they are anything but and they’ve had to carry an immense weight their entire lives which can translate into extraordinary creativity. “It is a difficult thing, / the knowing and the not, / and the weight of carrying it all.” (Hard Love).

In God Damn If I Haven’t Learned, Lyon’s posits the question; whether through everything she’s experienced, she’s closer to real understanding. Lyons is a heady mix of self-deprecation and fierce survivalist spunk, she’s got courage and guts and at the same time can sell herself hideously short, this comes out in her poetry and it’s what makes her deeply human. If she were solely an egotist, we’d loathe her, if she were a coward, we couldn’t get behind her. In many ways she’s both, that’s the mercury, the madness and the smooth method of her. The irony of living being, despite it all, we still don’t really learn our lessons, we’re just after all, ragged, imperfect humans. “I fight a war within myself / that I am certain will leave me / with casualties.” (This War).

It is this hypnotic brand of flawed, imperfectness that captivates us most of all. Who would really sit with Lyons if she had all her shit together? Would we find her as fascinating? As compelling, if she knew the answers to everything? Like a best friend, we want Lyons to understand and translate our own fucked-up shit. We want her to be the big sister who can give us sage advice and then party hard with us, but ultimately not have the answers to everything. It’s what makes her real, makes her vulnerable, and likable. That access to the howling inside her, where we don’t just know the pretty surface stuff, but the demons and the hauntings too.

Lyons work distinguishes itself from others of her ilk by her intelligence and depth. I found that out the first time I read more than her shorter memes, widely circulating most social media. She’s actually a damn fine writer, of substance, and it’s the depths of her I find myself returning to far more than the clever one liners. That said, she’s got those too, and they’re wicked smart; “Exhaustion, the kind prescribed by psychiatrists, had found a way inside of me.” (Oblivion). What hangs a powerful piece is the gravitas behind the one liner, you almost need both to succeed. Lyons says one thing but it has an entire book worth of meaning behind it. For every one of us who has seen a psychiatrist and finds medication stealing our truest selves, we can relate to the simplicity of Lyons acute observations.

If you ever wanted to know what it was like to be labeled crazy, to wonder if you were, to feel it sometimes, and to know deep down you were as sane as anyone else, then The Lithium Chronicles ll will lend you the insight necessary to glimpse into that world. You may think in terms of stereotypes, One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest kind of ideas of what mental illness feels like, but there is nothing quite like reading the raw words, the quiet observations of someone who has gone through the system, survived it and can look back on it with a degree of distance.  Perhaps for some of us that is a morbid voyeuristic taint on our behalf, whilst for others, it’s attempting to understand what someone we loved endured or went through. The value of understanding cannot be diminished, even now, even in nearly 2020 we don’t give nearly enough credence to mental health or the experiences of those going through a largely unregulated system where individuals are truly at the mercy of the medicine machine.

Poems like Fine On The Outside expose the innards of what it is like to suffer with mental torment and yet, still be able to function and appear well. Nobody to talk to, nobody realizing how bad it can get. Lyons writing in this poem is a fine example of how her use of colors, small observations, concise and well grafted word-play, enable her as a poet to describe two things simultaneously; the emotion and the physical expression of the emotion as acted out in say, a yellow table, with a smoky mountain in the background, and crows in her trees. Those kinds of metaphors and images stay. They linger in your mind long after reading, because of the power their grafting into emotions creates. This is poetry at its finest, this is the kind of poetry people remember and quote to one another.

Then there’s just damn irresistible solid writing, the kind of writing capable of elevating an author above nearly all others, despite the competition;  “I don’t think you want to know me / like you say you do / I don’t think you want to know how /  my hips ache with the weight / of women crumbling / under angry men / and bridges painted whiter/  than any Holy Spirit / asked them to be.” (Karaoke Blues). Poems like this, they remind us why Lyons is forerunner in the poetry world, why her work is Tweeted by Canada (the country) and consistently used as tattoos and motivational prints on people’s walls, why essentially Lyons is indelible. That’s exactly what she is, impossible to forget or rub off. She stays. Her worth is insistent and permanent.

Before I read Lyons, I was a fan of longer poetry, and Lyons can write some amazing longer pieces, more than proving her worth at any poetic form. But as anyone familiar with Lyons range will attest, some of her best work is in the briefness of her statement, how she’s uncannily capable of saying so much with so little. It takes a certain sharp mind to achieve this, to let it sink in with just a few lines. You have to be absolutely fearless, able to speak your truth, and not hold back, and in this emptying, you achieve a purity few people have the guts to offer.

There’s a visceral raw energy to Lyons work that speaks of magic, nature, humanity and suffering as well as always, hope and beauty. The gift of grafting both extremes may come from her battle with light and darkness. She is a woman who cannot do things in halves. She must either burn out entirely or not at all. There is no fade in this poet, she’s not middling, if you see the trees alight, it’s she who’s torched the forest. And I appreciate deeply the resonance with the natural world and its interweaving with emotions and life, that ties them all together in a way that makes a profound sense. “You wash your sheets / and the guilt from your cock, / you wipe the walls / and your mouth / and drop a clean kiss / on top of the shame / you left at your door.” (The Savage Bits). When a writer is capable of opening her cavities and extracting that kind of electric, pulsating resonance, it’s bigger than mere words, it becomes a testimony.

One might argue there are no boundaries to writing like this, it is completely unapologetic and exposed. But Lyons has the craft of a true writer, she knows how much to say and when to stop, she knows what to reveal and what not to, if you think you’ll know all of her by her writing, you never will. She’s sprinting ahead of us, outpacing our shallow labels, because as well as being able to be out of control she’s very much a creature who has had to understand the nature of control and how to survive. You may think you have her number but she’s already left you behind. That’s because her understanding has been forced from the extremity of her experience and perpetual battle with emotions that many would be drowned by.

Some have likened Lyons to a female Bukowski but I think that’s minimizing her reach; “I am a whore, and I know I am / because I was given that label / by an angry man after I shared / his time and gulped at a sixteen / dollar shot while we laughed.” (WHORE). The important distinction being, Bukowski was a nihilist who thought only of himself and didn’t care whom he ruined in his pursuit of the graphic viscera of life. Talented undoubtedly, his persona was rotten to the core, reflecting his true nature. Lyons may argue she’s no different but I would dispute that. Lyons is a mother, a wife, she’s a friend, a champion, she cares, if you ask her to help you, she will, does that seem like the selfish nihilism of Bukowski? Isn’t it possible, Bukowski took the easy road, parodying with good verbiage, the madness induced in a bottle, whilst Lyons reflects her own battle with darkness, and retains that essential humanity despite it? I know who I’d admire more.

So when we read the surface humor and horror of whoredom, blow-jobs, the seeming pit of despair, we need also to pay attention to the salvation within the little observations, the tender moments woven throughout, that speak of her family, her love for things, her nimble ability to endure and not lose that tender part of her she likes to pretend doesn’t exist. How else could Lyons unravel with such insight, the duplicity of this world, the vanity and the absurdity, and reflect it back to us with an intelligence that belies the idea she’s just a spinning top without connection. She’s very much connected, her womanhood, her femininity, the very core of her, fuses with the natural world and lends her a strength no bottle swilling vagabond can truly attest to.

When I talk of Lyons dexterity with deeper understanding, this comes from her observations, a life time spent watching the outcomes of her own and then others, has attuned her to the minutia and enabled her to consider inside out, what we take for granted; “Perhaps beauty swirls / in the bowl, / mingling with bile / retched out in shame.” (Hiding Beauty). Surely a poet able to wrestle truth from every stereotype is one worth holding onto. For so much in our world is the cliché, the over-used hackneyed phrase. Lyons is a cut above that kind of generalization, perhaps because she knows what its like to be judged herself, she’s the last person to hurl an unwarranted judgement but she’ll not shy away from saying it as it is. Perhaps if she had a typical fat ego, she’d been less approachable, more predictable, maybe she wouldn’t know how to wield magic and make us gape at her insights.

In I Have Fallen, Lyons says; “I have died one hundred deaths / to appease doctors, / and family, and friends, / and I did it all / in the name of sanity.” This is one of many examples where Lyons uncannily hones in on the truth behind diagnosis, illness, judgement, pursuit of perfection. She’s not a cookie cutter idealist seeking 10/10 she’s never had that luxury. Survival is nothing to take for granted when you don’t know how you will feel the next day, the next hour, the next minute. The pursuit of ‘sanity’ as per the medical industry is a subject few elucidate on, almost a dirty little secret. Perhaps by shining a light on the absurdity of such a request, Lyons demonstrates that survival is underappreciated and we’re all buying into a false bill of goods.

Finally, there are poems like To My Best Friend, On the Day Of Her Death, which, if I say anything about them, I would do an injustice. Equally, poems like The Value of a Beautiful Heart, remind me again, that comparing a female poet to a male poet, comparing a like with like or a kind with kind, is an injustice also. Lyons is greater than Bukowski or Baudelaire or Billy Childish, because she’s a mother, so she’s not going to shit on everyone just to have the last say, and she’s not going to not give a damn just because it’s fashionable and will get her notoriety. She may have more regrets than all of them put together, but she possesses a conscience, a will to meaning, a heart. And because of that, I say, Nicole Lyons eclipses those famous names you may wish to compare her to, she outshines them, she’s more real than they ever were, and maybe we need to start re-thinking whom we call heroes and whom we admire and why.

Maybe just maybe it’s possible for a poet to be incredible and still have a conscience, still give a damn, and not just live vacuously and with abandon on the froth of a daydream. Personally, I always preferred non-fiction to fiction, there’s something real there, something beating and insistent, that’s what this kind of poetry is, and within Nicole Lyons I find someone true whom I can admire and yet, relate to, and like, as a human being not a hedonist. Because she’s not just full of piss and vinegar, she’s one of the good ones too. Maybe at times, despite herself.

-Candice Louisa Daquin / Editor of SMITTEN This Is What Love Looks Like, Poetry by Women for Women.


TLC - NICOLE LYONS VOLUME ONE front cover Updated 4-13-2019

 

 

The Lithium Chronicles Volume I is now available.

Amazon US

Amazon Canada

Amazon UK

 

 

 

 

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The Lithium Chronicles Volume II is due for release in December.

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!

Candice Louisa Daquin Reviews the Myths of Girlhood — January 30, 2019

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.

Final chance to submit to: “We Will Not Be Silenced” Anthology — October 14, 2018

Final chance to submit to: “We Will Not Be Silenced” Anthology

Midnight, Monday 15th October is the deadline for submitting art/writing/poetry, this is an important, very timely project at a critical stage in history, your voices need to be heard! Previously published work you hold the copyright permissions on, are acceptable.

Please add your voice.

The story: Bruised But Not Broken, Whisper and the Roar, Indie Blu(e), and Blood Into Ink are joining forces to publish an anthology about the lived experience of sexual harassment and assault. We believe that it is more important than ever before that more voices speak out and reclaim their strength by owning their survival stories. All contributors, female and male, can submit up to three pieces of creative work- these can include; Poetry, Prose, Essay, Short Fiction, Prose, or original Artwork, but should be limited in length (under 1,000 words) considering that this is an anthology. You will be notified if your work is accepted. Please do not consider nonacceptance as any diminishment of your experience, but as with any publishing venture, we must try to fit the individual pieces together into a strong whole.

  • Submission of previously published pieces is acceptable if you still own the rights to your work.
  • Artwork can be submitted in black and white OR color but all artwork should be black and white compatible.
  • Using a pen name or publishing anonymously is acceptable.
  • All submissions should be sent to bloodintoink2017@gmail.com by midnight, Monday, October 15, 2018.

Writers and artists will retain the publishing rights to their individual submitted pieces. Indie Blu(e) will retain the rights to the collection We Will Not Be Silenced.

Pieces accepted for the Anthology may be used in whole or in part to promote the Anthology. All writers and artists will be appropriately credited in all promotional materials.

Should the royalties from sales of the Anthology exceed the costs of publishing and promoting the Collection, 70% of the royalties above these costs will be donated to organizations that support survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault.