Dee by the Sea – Kristiana Reed

This piece is a continuation of Kristiana’s former piece “Dee”

 

Dee’s tea has been sat on the counter for fifteen minutes and I am yet to take my eyes off of it. It is surely now cold but I refuse to remake it. Five times I have called, to no avail. I boiled the kettle, let it whistle a little longer than usual. I made a racket with cutlery and dishes in an attempt to wake the sleeping lion upstairs. Nothing but the sound of my own discomfort.

 

I am pouring the tea into my stainless-steel sink when Dee appears, disheveled in the doorway. She is wearing a blue denim romper – a get up of chaffing ‘comfort’ – and a bird’s nest on her head.

 

“I thought we might go to the beach.” I state – saying ‘might’ to be polite but with no intention of having a conversation. Dee shrugs her shoulders and then begins to weep about how nowadays the sea and its existence only appears to her in dreams.

 

The beach is deserted. After all, it is seven am and in hindsight, perhaps I had been cruel waking Dee up so early; her tears not yet salty, still fresh like a baby’s. She is quiet in the majestic presence of the sea. Our breathing, gulls screeching and the waves calmly crashing transformed into a melody about life and the inevitability of death.

 

I wrap my arms around my shoulders, cradling my body in my hands. Dee slips off her shoes and leaves the lumpy sand behind to paddle along the shore. Her ankles glisten in the rising sun and surf. She looks as beautiful as I feel.

 

I visit the sea to find peace; a single dove looking to retrieve a misplaced olive leaf. There is something about how when the tide is out, it is already beginning to return. Every shoreline kiss, the opportunity to start again.

 

I hear a splash. Dee is stood waist deep in the sea, her romper discarded, blessing Neptune with her nudity. She is smiling, like I’ve never seen before and her hand is extended out toward me. I blush, my hand resting on the buttons of my dress.

 

“Come on, it’s seven am, no one will see… except the sea!” Dee giggles and it’s all she needs to say to me.

 

Kristiana Reed day dreams, people watches in coffee shops, teaches English and writes. She is a curator on Blood into Ink, a collective member of The Whisper and the Roar and blogs at My Screaming Twenties. She is 24 and is enjoying the journey which is finding her voice.

Between You and I-Nicholas Gagnier and Kristiana Reed

Started this poem in transit between my home and manic states. Continued it somewhere between drunk sleep and barely awake. Dedicated to my darlings killed for cheap Friday night thrills, kissing in the backseat of a Chevrolet, I write this poem between being broken and telling myself it will be okay.

I write this when I’m swatting every memory of you away, stuck listening to words which wish to stay. And breathe on the pages of relationships I hope won’t sink. The fledgling fragments take flight in the bath; when I’m naked with half a glass, full and empty. This is how I write best, chasing the sun set in tepid water, foolishly believing every good thing lasts.

I wrote this poem between flowers and their glass vase, shattered on the floor like my million shards of shame. I wrote this for my loves, only for the sentiment behind it to fade, as they became ghosts in the static, FM radio waves.

And maybe this poem will see the light of day, pulled from the confines of my ebony heart. It only looks this way because I like to sit in the dark, and hide from the blue it has beaten for you. I write and I’m pulling apart the crumpled edges of loneliness while driving in my car; straddling the curb to spill the lifeblood of another three ghosts I’ve allowed to stay with me for the hour.

I write this poem from a perturbed place, between deafening silence and awkward bass. Thrill of the chase with tears down my face, facetious and simultaneously lacking faith. I write this clusterfuck in wait of something better, despite knowing nothing could be more remote.

You see, I wrote this between you and I. So even if they love me and I learn how to fly, I’ll never let go of tucking a daisy behind your ear and watching the earth disappear in your eyes.


Nicholas Gagnier is a Canadian writer and poet, and the creator of  Free Verse Revolution. He has published several poetry books, as well as a novella releasing this July. Nicholas supports and engages in conversations around mental health and social welfare, preferring strong literary voices and self-expression to traditional narrative and poetry. He lives in Ottawa with his young daughter, where he runs FVR Publishing and works on a million projects at once.

Kristiana Reed day dreams, people watches in coffee shops, teaches English and writes. She is a curator on Blood into Ink, a collective member of The Whisper and the Roar and blogs at My Screaming Twenties. She is 24 and is enjoying the journey which is finding her voice.

Review of A Sparrow Stirs its Wings, Rachel Finch by Kristiana Reed

Originally posted on Indie Blu(e). 

From the moment Sudden Denouement Publishing announced the publication of Rachel Finch’s debut poetry collection, I could not wait to read it. Finch made a brave and bold entrance onto Blood into Ink, with ignition pieces like Girls are not for Beating (pg.35). I was hooked by her ability to sing fire with a bloody mouth.

A Sparrow Stirs its Wings houses this spirit of fight and flight. Flight not from fear but from the space she has shaped to soar. The structure of the collection reminds me of Alfa’s Silent Squall except Finch begins with the girl crossing her heart and hoping to die, walking on eggshells (pg.19), and ends as a woman who recognizes strength and hope in her reflection:

‘I did not notice the growth, until I had grown,
I had not seen myself changing, becoming,
until the woman I forged reflected my gaze
and held my stare with no shame.’ – Hold the Stare

In fact, I would even say Finch’s sparrow does more than stir its wings – it unfurls them in the morning sun and defies the laws of gravity.

This debut collection is more than just honest, beautifully brutal storytelling. Finch has created a collection the reader will feel compelled to return to, time and time again. Moon Breathing makes me fall in love, Heal is the advice I need imprinted on my palm and Still Smouldering never fails to provoke a visceral reaction:

‘I was reborn a dragon feasting on the fire in my belly, lit with milk teeth in my mouth’

Finch’s voice has found a home, in these pages and in my chest. She touches her readers. She tells the truth and explores hers. She leaves you with the following words:

‘You are the smell of rain before it hits the soil.’

And you can’t help but believe them.


To buy:
US
UK


Kristiana Reed day dreams, people watches in coffee shops, teaches English and writes. She is a curator on Blood into Ink, a collective member of The Whisper and the Roar and blogs at My Screaming Twenties. She is 24 and is enjoying the journey which is finding her voice.

Review Of Magpie In August, Kindra M. Austin By Kristiana Reed

Originally posted on Indie Blu(e).

Austin stuns with her debut novel, Magpie in August. A lovingly written narrative about living, dying and the purgatory in between.

I’ve been an admirer and reader of Austin’s poetry since late 2016, a little while after she started poemsandparagraphs. Austin always writes honestly with the razor-sharp ability to steal the breath from my lungs and make me punch the air with my fist. However, I did not know what to expect with Magpie in August, except it grew out of her relationship with her late mother (as revealed in her interview with Sudden Denouement founder, Jasper Kerkau).

Within the first few pages, Magpie, our protagonist, was sketched into my mind in vivid magenta, violet and deep charcoal. Magpie’s love for Peter was palpable from the first time he called her ‘Beautiful’ as if it was her ‘God given name’. Her mother, Lynette, is an angel and demon wrapped up in one and Renny, Magpie’s reader and listener, a friend and foe. Austin leads us to believe we know everything there is to know about these people. Magpie can be cruel. Lynette is fickle and flippant. Peter is a watchful guardian and Renny is silent.

But, they are people, not characters and so our omniscient facade soon falls away. In every chapter, Austin gifts us a new angle, new mirror and new prism to refract everything we knew through. In fact, it is only Peter, quite fittingly, who remains the same.

Austin gave me a safe space to reflect on my own relationships, to draw parallels and thank my blessings. Her exploration of grief and loss is beautiful. A stunning, heart-wrenching tribute to the human condition and its difficulty to love unconditionally, when love, at the end of it all, is what we do best. Every person receives redemption of some form – Magpie, Lynette, Wren, Dalton (Magpie’s father) and even Jessica Wenzel.

Austin’s unwavering guidance into the darkness of rock bottom, Lake Huron and even the supernatural was superb. Authors like Cecelia Ahern (If You Could See Me Now), F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby) and Douglas Kennedy (The Woman in the Fifth) came to mind as Austin matched their ability to write people not caricatures and take them to places we didn’t expect; never once causing the reader to doubt their ability in ensuring it all makes sense in the end.

Magpie in August ends just as it should. The Magpie who wakes up from a dreamy slumber in chapter 1 is the Magpie embracing all the earth and sky have to offer in the final chapter. Austin brings us full circle; allowing us to reap the rewards of a woman saving herself.

Magpie leaves us believing she deserves to breathe, love and wait for her

beloved stars to awaken silvery blue in an inky sky.’

To buy:

US
UK


Kristiana Reed day dreams, people watches in coffee shops, teaches English and writes. She is a curator on Blood into Ink, a collective member of The Whisper and the Roar and blogs at My Screaming Twenties. She is 24 and is enjoying the journey which is finding her voice.

Review of Leonard The Liar, Nicholas Gagnier by Kristiana Reed

Let me begin honestly. There is no hiding the love I have always had for Nicholas Gagnier’s work; whether that be his poetry or being a beta reader for his novel Founding Fathers, due to be released in the summer of 2019. However, this also meant I approached reading Leonard the Liar with a preconceived notion of Gagnier’s narrative voice. I hear Gagnier as an angsty yet wise before his time twenty something to thirty something year old, who is both equally in and out of love with the world around him. This was not the voice I heard in the opening of Leonard – the prologue which lays the foundations for the telling of this story.

Gagnier’s strength is in his characters. His ability to write about the complexity and brilliance of human nature all at once. His characters are not metaphors or windows to a bigger picture; they are the people, like you and me, living in the bigger picture; living in the world we struggle to recognise yet know all too well at the same time. Leonard in his fifties appeared to lack this for me but Gagnier soon turned the tide.

Each moment and encounter Leonard faces shapes him and reveals secrets, and paths he regrets walking down. From struggling to even see Gagnier in the prologue, I soon saw little parts of myself in every character. I saw myself in Skylar’s reckless yet needy nature. I saw myself in Leonard’s lies and his endless search for happiness everywhere, except where it already exists. I saw myself in Claire’s ability to love even if it means getting hurt. I saw myself in Luke’s short tempered fury but perhaps not in his ability to win a bar fight singlehandedly.

I read and enjoyed Leonard the Liar. I smiled, laughed and furrowed my brow. However, as the denouement opened I forgot about enjoyment and Gagnier’s skilful storytelling took hold of me – whether by the hand, heart or throat is hard to tell. All I know is I felt every last syllable. And I cried with both grief and hope because this is what Gagnier does. He introduces you to a man we can all relate to. A man who has secrets, insecurities and memories he would rather not share. A man who lies, loves and loses. But, despite all of the heartbreak in this novella, there is light. There is light wherever you would like it to be – in the happy ending, in the morning sky or at the end of the tunnel.

Gagnier always reminds us to ‘Never lose your light’ and I think for the first time it truly made sense, thanks to Skylar’s words:

‘I hope you will forgive me the words my darkness spoke, and use them to find your light.’

In short, mid-fifties Leonard makes perfect sense by the final pages and my preconceived notion of Gagnier’s voice was flipped on its head; introducing me again to him as a writer whose voice will always be heard above the crowd.

To buy:

US
UK


Kristiana Reed day dreams, people watches in coffee shops, teaches English and writes. She is a curator on Blood into Ink, a collective member of The Whisper and the Roar and blogs at My Screaming Twenties. She is 24 and is enjoying the journey which is finding her voice.

Dee- Kristiana Reed

An old friend visited tonight. They said they’d never really left. They were here to stay a while but this time I wasn’t allowed to lock them in a room and lose the key (or bury or throw it from the top window), or they would sue me; which I didn’t think you could do to someone who had forgotten how to smile and mean it, or be called beautiful and believe it. I carried their bags, all the same, up the stairs; the threat subsiding with the whistle of the kettle on the hob. The guest bed wasn’t made so I suggested they had mine. Their blue coat looked at home, carelessly thrown on my bedsheets. Yet their sullen off-centre stare suggested they were here out of obligation, not from any motivation other than to cause a nuisance and eat all of my biscuits. My attempt at conversation was feeble at best. We talked about the weather and when the TV programme ended I asked, ‘What’s next?’. They appeared to love and hate this question in equal measure.

 

‘What’s next?’

 

‘You could go to bathe and then bed. You could paint your toe nails, mess up and start again. You could hang those photos you’ve been meaning to cherish for months. You could fall in love. Finish a book, instead of starting three more. Or you could cry as if God has decreed no more rain will fall from the sky. You could think about death and whether it puts an end to loneliness and feelings of the flesh. You could make me another cup of tea and sit with me. Or you could do as you always do, lock me in a room and throw away the key.

 

What’s next?’

 

I left two tea bags to steep and fluffed the guest bed sheets. I had accepted my friend was here to stay, but they wouldn’t be sleeping with me.

 

Kristiana Reed day dreams, people watches in coffee shops, teaches English and writes. She is a curator on Blood into Ink, a collective member of The Whisper and the Roar and blogs at My Screaming Twenties. She is 24 and is enjoying the journey which is finding her voice.

I Knew My Mistakes – Kristiana Reed

I knew my mistakes when they were emblazoned
across my chest, a red poker hot dress
you bought for me when I forgot your tea
or to arrange the flowers perfectly.

I knew my mistakes when both hello
and goodbye were pursed lips,
a cold shoulder in the sheets,
a clarion call of silence.

I knew my mistakes when you shared them
with our friends, your mother and mine,
a verbatim list of why you didn’t have the time
to raise me an angel following in your wake.

I knew my mistakes when pity
felt more like love than kissing you
goodnight, lying in wait for you to finish
me – breakfast, lunch and dinner.
 

I knew my mistakes when I said I was leaving
and opened the door for you,
letting the useless escape from my bones
to join you with your suitcase down the road.


(Photo: Vivian Maier)

Kristiana Reed day dreams, people watches in coffee shops, teaches English and writes. She is a curator on Blood into Ink, a collective member of The Whisper and the Roar & Sudden Denouement, and blogs at My Screaming Twenties. She is 24 and is enjoying the journey which is finding her voice.

Meet Sudden Denouement Collective Member Kristiana Reed

The editors of Sudden Denouement Literary Collective know that our strength is our writers. We hope that you enjoy getting to know them through our new Writer Interview Series.

What name do you write under?

Kristiana Reed

In what part of the world do you live? Tell us about it.

I live in England, in Colchester, the oldest recorded town in Britain. Its Roman name was Camulodunum and is known for being razed to the ground by Queen Boudicca in AD60.

Please tell us about yourself.

I’m 24 and an English teacher. I teach kids aged 11 – 16 and when I’m not doing that I’m either reading, writing, people watching or cooing at my cat. Mostly, I’m cooing at my cat.

If you have a blog or website, please provide the name and the link.

I write at My Screaming Twenties.

When did you begin your blog/website, and what motivated you start it?

I began my blog towards the end of 2016 after a sleepless night, tossing and turning, kicking myself for not writing enough, for thinking the world is beautiful and painful and not sharing my feelings with anyone. I had dabbled previously with blogging and always failed to discipline myself enough. My Screaming Twenties, however, was born out of a need to share. It wasn’t anything I had felt before and so it began. The name is a play on the Roaring Twenties, except I’m kicking and screaming through mine as I find my voice, struggle and survive with depression at different junctures and fall in and out love with people, landscapes and songs.

What inspires/motivates you to keep blogging on your site?

At first, it was the likes and the kind comments. Since joining Whisper and the Roar, Blood into Ink and Sudden Denouement and meeting people in person and online who inspire and support me, I write because I finally have the courage to call myself a writer. Writing has become less of a hobby and more a labour of love – a very therapeutic one.

When did you join the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective?

April 2018.

Why/how did you join Sudden Denouement?

I was invited by the other collective members and of course, I said yes! I feel incredibly honoured and I am loving every second of being a part of such a warm, welcoming and phenomenally talented community.

What does “Divergent Literature” mean to you?

Divergent Literature is the stuff I wish I taught in the classroom. It’s storytelling which isn’t bound by rules, meter and form; it’s literature which comes from our darkest and lightest places. It doesn’t ‘break rules’; it simply does not have them.

Jasper Kerkau frequently talks about Sudden Denouement writers using the ‘secret language.’ What is it?

As a reader and writer of Sudden Denouement material, the ‘secret language’ for me is the innate ability to speak from a personal experience yet still speak to the very core of many others.

What are your literary influences?

For when I’m angry or hopelessly in love – spoken word poetry. My favourites are Sarah Kay and Neil Hilborn (essentially most Button Poetry poets). When I’m feeling whimsical – story books. The ones I read when I was little, Fitzgerald, Waugh, Salinger, Fante, Haig and Ahern. When I’m feeling clever – the classics. Homer, Virgil and essays written by professors I’m loathe to let go of, despite graduating three years ago with my Classics degree. Then, as a teacher with a syllabus – I teach Shakespeare, Stevenson, Wilfred Owen, Tennyson, Dharker, Agard, Dickens, Doyle etc. An eclectic bunch.

Has any of your work been published in print? (books, literary magazines, etc.) How did that happen?

I’ve been published in Nicholas Gagnier’s Swear to Me and FVR: The Collection. It happened because he is wonderful and gave me (and continues to) opportunities I never imagined would come my way. He is a dear friend and I am eternally grateful.

Do you have writing goals? What are they?

To keep at it. To start approaching literary magazines. To publish something celebrating my 25th birthday next May – the halfway point for My Screaming Twenties?

Which pieces of your own writing are your favorites? Please share a few links.
Vigil
A Meadow
The Better Man

What else would like to share about your writing, Sudden Denouement, or yourself?

Thank you; for your warmth, kindness and support. You’re all wonderful.

A Meadow – Kristiana Reed

You are standing in a meadow,

it is lush green,

the kind people talk about

from the other side.

Life swells in pockets;

a city of daisies,

a bumblebee filling it’s knees,

tall tulips swaying in the breeze,

a buried village in the undergrowth

ants, woodlice and centipedes.

Sunshine weighs heavy

on your back,

on your shoulders,

your eyes water

and you cannot understand

what has brought you here;

to the edge of life in colour,

swimming in jewelled flowers,

the taste of pollen on your lips,

petals embracing the sun

the smell of hope –

poisonous joy.

 

You could step forward,

bare foot, unguarded

risking your soul for a chance

to choose the flowers

you adorn your home with.

 

Behind you is a forest,

shadowy fingers lingering

about your waist

stretching toward your throat,

to regain a firm hold

on your senses and pull

you into the shade.

Life thrives here too, but unseen;

amber eyes becoming accustomed

to the night sky,

families burrow in the roots of great oaks,

hedgehogs find homes in autumn debris,

birds call and mate in the trees,

in the dust of your footsteps.

When you began, it was a stroll,

an amble into the unknown.

It grew dark with heavy boughs

as heavy as your chest,

threatening to end all light,

snuff out the life

under your collarbone.

 

At times you walked through clearings

and on the trees you saw her face,

theirs and mine

but never yours.

 

Now you’re here, still standing

in a meadow

wondering what brought you

to this quiet place.

In the blue sky

there is the reflection of a man

beckoning you forward.

He is kind,

he dreams in orange and purple,

he believes in love,

he has led you here

past our faces embedded in bark

to see yours, for once,

in the blinding sun.

 

Kristiana Reed day dreams, people watches in coffee shops, teaches English and writes. She is a curator on Blood into Ink, a collective member of The Whisper and the Roar and blogs at My Screaming Twenties. She is 24 and is enjoying the journey which is finding her voice.

Play Dead – Introducing Kristiana Reed

Monster is living inside of me

behind my ribcage,

she curls herself around my spine

draws her fingers to my throat

to stroke my collarbone,

to deliver raspy breath to my ear

repeating the words

on which I always choke –

my name, my wants, my needs,

my apologies, my fury –

and the dust from the bones

she’s grinding with a gummy jaw.

 

Sometimes she sinks down

to bask in the darkness of my womb,

recline in my pelvis

and drag her nails up my thighs

and down my calves, towards my feet

where she binds me with manacles,

shrieking maniacally

words garbled with my sins –

breathing, praying, hoping,

talking, waiting –

for this torture to end,

for Monster living in my head

and the hollows of my heart,

to vanish and leave me

to play dead.


Kristiana Reed day dreams, people watches in coffee shops, teaches English and writes. She is a curator on Blood into Ink, a collective member of The Whisper and the Roar and blogs at My Screaming Twenties. She is 24 and is enjoying the journey which is finding her voice.