Candice Louisa Daquin Reviews Composition of a Woman by Christine E. Ray

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 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.

Faye K. Brown Reviews Rachel Finch’s A Sparrow Stirs its Wings

“Pieces of me lie scattered in his fingerprints, his voice an echo at the base of my throat and as he nears me, I cross my heart and hope to die.” (He Will Carry Me, As Long A I Will Carry Him)

Amidst the hardships flowing through her veins, Rachel Finch has found salvation from sexual abuse and trauma through her poetry. This piece is just one of the many heart- wrenching, soul-shattering poems in her debut poetry book “A Sparrow Stirs Its Wings”.  Rachel invites her readers to over 120 pieces of her heart & soul, and I can guarantee you will need a box of tissues by your side for this book.

Split into two sections (Part One: Broken Egg Shells/ Part Two: Flight); readers can clearly identify the mood on the pages. Described within her poetic words are hellish moments worded so beautifully that you can’t help but to fight back the urge to dive in between the lines and save the girl before danger strikes. Rachel’s writing is spiritual, delicate, truthful, and at times, heart-piercing. There is a cleansing spirit even within the darker portions of the book:

“He thinks the darkness will swallow me whole, but he has forgotten that light burns within me.” (Inner Flame)

The emotions felt are powerful, and paralyzing.  Her words are a comforting hand to hold while they take you back to your own tragedies, as she holds you tight through poetry, and comforts you through her ability to be triumphant within turmoil.  A mark of a great poet Is the ability to make emotional connection with their audience, and Rachel Finch does exactly that.

Abuse is one of the most difficult subjects to write about, talk about, and acknowledge personally, let alone publicly.  Rachel has a way of bringing abrupt attention to the matter without glorifying it. This subject is trip-wired with fine lines, and she brilliantly dances right over them with a healing warrior goddess mentality and message:

“I spent so long in the dark that the moment the light streamed in, I let it swallow me whole. The beauty was everywhere, is, everywhere. People are so breath-taking. When they let themselves feel, when they choose to house truth on their tongue, when they grow from the pain.” (Growth from Part Two: Flight)

So often we feel ostracized and ashamed because of the terrible things other humans have inflicted upon us.  Rachel preaches to us to “Shed The Shame” because we are survivors, not victims; we can learn and grow from the pain, not let it destroy us; we have a choice to harness our power and use it for good, not continue the cycle.

Rachel reminds us that no one can take who we are away from us. We are warriors and she is holding up the eternal flame of righteousness, proudly displaying her battle scars – not for glory – but to share her bravery and reminding us that we are not defined by our tragedies, pain, and suffering. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t ask for a better soul to lead me into battle.

There is no stone left unturned in “A Sparrow Stirs Its Wings”. This is our anthem for 2018. The revolution we have all been waiting for.

Rachel has gained success as an online poet and community leader via Facebook and Instagram on her “Bruised But Not Broken” page, as well as on her poetry page “Rachel”.  She has over 600,000 followers and counting. She is a unstoppable force that takes the time to comfort hurting and lost souls that need direction, healing light, a safe community, and family.  “A Sparrow Stirs Its Wings” is a tangible piece of her online legacy, as well as one of the most powerful collections of poetic literature I have had the honor and privilege to read.  Get ready for your world to be poetically ROCKED!

A Sparrow Stirs its Wings is available from

front cover

Faye Brown is the author of Beautifully Damaged Things. You can read more of her writing at Black Orchid Poetry and FKBrown Poetry.