Poet Christine Ray’s first printed collection of poetry, Composition of a Woman (Sudden Denouement Press, 2018) is a striking, fearless foray into the psyche of womanhood, both highly relatable and intensely personal for female readers and achingly candid and fascinating for male.
Ray has already struck her mark as a writer of substance with her blog, Brave & Reckless and her involvement in the literary collective Sudden Denouement, but the bringing together of a cherished portion of her work on the subject of the feminine experience, is a special treat, enabling us to appreciate her breadth of understanding and the humor and tragedy behind the female.
From the very first poem, in her trademark fashion, Ray describes modern womanhood thus; “there is an unknown thief/black-clad/masked vigilante/stealing into my nights” (The Body Politic). In many ways this is a canvas upon which she has illustrated pockets of life in such ways “I am afraid/of disintegration” “I am routinely pricked with pins” (Vibrational Sensory Loss) most of us have felt this way in today’s world because of chronic illness and/or stress or loss of identity and voicing those emotions is both necessary and difficult, something Ray excels at.
Additionally this is the language of love gained and lost, thwarted and found, destroyed and remembered in a fantastical landscape. “symmetrical patterns/ captured briefly in the mirror/ before the spin of the wheel/ pulled us apart / leaving our jewel tone edges / aching from separation.” (Kaleidoscope) In this, the book has a lovely balance between literal and metaphysical suffering as well as being a testimony of a woman’s walk through life, and her ability to survive the un-survivable.
Ray’s distinctiveness comes from her inability to turn away from truth, her proffered confessional, and the blunt, often beautifully crafted mélange of accents, emotions and voices that spill from her depths. “I have been waking / in one of two states / words pulling at me/ rousing me/ demanding.” (Brilliant Madness) . Her voice is one many of us have heard at night, and been pulled toward, before holding onto a fragment come morning, she is at once, impossible to quantify and disarmingly real, her charm is in the rendering of a universal experience of life. “there is a point / where the pain starts / radiates out/ in a geometric/ arc / compresses / folds / reconfigures me / like an open fan.” (Accordion Folds).
The purpose of poetry is surely to form impressions of emotions hard to give words to. The poet is a painter of lives, the reader finds themselves in those shades and it is that recognized quill and truism that draws us to the poetic form, so immediate and unadulterated beyond the confines of prose. “how many empty shapes/ have been etched on my soul / like shadow / like negatives of photographs / from those who have been torn away.” (Loss is an Ocean). Therefore when a poet can become the photo album for a life time or a gender, they have successfully translated our unsaid experience, which is what Composition of a Woman does uncannily well. “I arise something new / wipe the blood from my mouth / spread fledgling wings / and with the lift of the north wind / I claim the night sky / mine.” (Raven).
Christine Ray is woman poet of today’s arrhythmic heartbeat, her transformation from within to without is best described in her poem Becoming a Poet, conveying how; “she was always struck by the juxtaposition / of her physical body / negotiating / close suburbs, …. while her heart and mind / wandered in the isolated wilderness / while errant words and wisps of dreams / and drops of feelings like rich, red blood / continued to seep out of her.” For so long, woman’s voices were repressed, by others, by themselves, by the system. Poets like Ray are the new generation, they’re not keeping quiet, they’re dragging by the neck all that hasn’t been said, all that is labeled shameful, and opening the cage doors. After all, freedom is found in truth.
Composition of a Woman will be released by Sudden Denouement Publishing on Tuesday, July 31st. It will be available on Amazon.com, Amazon Canada, Amazon Europe and other major retailers.
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.