Christine Ray – Composition of a Woman Like no Other

“The world needs strong women who will lift and build others, who will love and be loved. Women who live bravely, both tender and fierce. Women of indomitable will.” – Amy Tenney

I don’t know who Amy Tenney is, have never heard of her, nor read anything other than the above quote, (that I know of), that can be traced back to her, but after reading that very quote, I think Amy Tenney may know Christine Ray.

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If the heart of the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective is the impressive collection of writers and their work, editors and their passion, readers and their appreciation, then surely Christine Ray has been a potent infusion of life for us all.

For the past two years, Christine Ray has been a valued, and much loved, member of the Sudden Denouement Literary Collective. As a writer, Christine is nothing short of impressive. As a poet, Christine is nothing short of phenomenal. With her vivid imagery and the unfiltered passion she leaves on her page, it was no surprise when Christine developed a large following of fans and a rock solid appreciation and respect from her collective, and the writers who run tight in influential social media circles, none of which are an easy feat.

Always the first to read, comment, and share the work featured on SD onto her own sites, Christine played a huge role in bringing all of our work to people who wouldn’t normally see it, and then bringing devoted fans and readers back to SD.

It wasn’t long before Christine became an editor at SD, working closely with the writers to produce the very best content, all the while writing for, and maintaining her own growing site, Brave and Reckless, but she was also quickly tapped to become the managing editor of not only The Sudden Denouement Literary Collective, but its sister site Whisper and The Roar as well.

Over the past two years Christine has given her all to this collective, and at times that has been a thankless and an exhausting job, yet she has continued to do it all just as she does everything she sets her mind and her heart to, with grace and determination. We, as a collective, have been fortunate to have spent these years under her ever-watchful eyes and her guiding light, and it is with our deepest thanks and our greatest appreciation that we bid farewell to her as editor of SD, and stand behind her as the biggest champions of her bright new future endeavours.

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Lost Voice – Christine Ray

siren’s golden voice
once dropped confident syllables
into air
as naturally as breathing
now stifled in constricted throat
that struggles to swallow
six-sided anxiety
hot, sour bile
college ruled notebooks
once full
of manic scribblings
compulsively captured in black ink
before inspiration could swirl down the floor drain
collect dust
sigh from disuse
pen now held in death grip
fingers have lost their grace
their nerve
fertile mind now an empty room
where silence rings
torturous tinnitus
blindfolded by fear
weight pressing down on shoulders
by the weight of giant
unseen inquisitor’s voice barks
Have you reached the bottom of yourself
are you so shallow
so barren?!
Or is truth so deeply hidden
that you must dive inside
hand to elbow buried into slippery entails
to reach it?
surgical implements laid out
with precision on a stainless tray
slide into view
no hesitation picking up sharp scalpel
with shaking fingers
a writer’s way is
always to bleed

“She was an angel that burst into my life and shone her brilliant light right into the eyes of my demons”

Christine is a wonderful writer & editor & it was through our shared love of poetry that our friendship was birthed. She is one of the strongest, most patient & inspiring women I know and it has been a pleasure to work alongside her often.
– Rachel Finch, author of A Sparrow Stirs Its Wings

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“Christine Ray. I told her once I knew with a name like that, she’d go places. What I didn’t mention was she already has and does every day, she takes us with her too. What I didn’t mention was even if she was called Erma F. Sluggs, she’d go places, that’s just how bright her electric mind is.
Christine Ray came into my life as a writer, with a flash and from the moment I heard of her, she didn’t stop spitting electricity and fire. Routinely we over-use descriptors, the irony being Christine is often the source of those descriptors. She actually IS unstoppable. She actually IS the real deal. She actually IS on fire. (Okay so the last one is a slight exaggeration, but seriously, have you looked at the sky lately?).

Christine Ray has left an impact on my life already, as if she had resided there for its entirety. She doesn’t demand attention, she earns it, with every hard effort she makes to be basically the bad ass best at everything she does. Is this a Type A Personality? Hell, she invented the term.

It is both sad and wonderful that whilst Christine has long battled with exhaustion and illness, she is one of the most energetic minds I have had the privilege to meet, and she has a gift of putting intelligent and creative people together in ways that creative incredible happenings. Despite any set-back she has experienced or any trauma in her past, that would give her ample reason to bow out, Christine never does, she keeps going and she takes you with her.
On a bad day, Christine’s infectious energy and passion for writing and poetry, equals that of most of the rest of us. She has taught me to be more, do more, expect more. She has taught me that you can be broken and mangled and still find no excuse not to do your absolute best. Christine is an unwilling role-model in that she doesn’t seem to see her own shine, whilst everyone who ever meets her, sees it instantly. Her talents don’t know boundaries they defy even her own expectations.

I have been so honored to work with Christine over the years I’ve known her, and see her rise in our literary publishing and poetry circle to become one thing; Irreplaceable.

I wouldn’t bet on many people because you really don’t know, but I would bet on Christine. She’s a warrior, she’s a fighter, she’s a demon mind that doesn’t rest until she’s accomplished goals far beyond her reach and you know what? She succeeds. And nothing, not even herself, stops her from getting up the next day and doing the same thing. I admire the hell out of her, I also genuinely LIKE her as a human being and this is pretty rare because many passionate people can drive you crazy, but in Christine’s case, she only reminds us, to be more of what we can be, never less.

Christine has galvanized a huge group of people into a collective that has radically changed the quiet, detached safe world of poetry writing that hitherto existed on WordPress and beyond. She’s brought all of us together, she is a lightning rod and a fucking incredible human being and her poetry is devastatingly beautiful. I adore her. I applaud her. I will never feel anything ordinary about her.” – Candice Daquin, author of Pinch The Lock

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During her time at Sudden Denouement, and Sudden Denouement Publishing, Christine Ray has worked closely with dozens of today’s most impressive writers to bring their most impressive work to print. Christine was key in helping to establish Sudden Denouement Publishing and single-handedly compiled, designed, and edited ‘Anthology Volume I: Writings From The Sudden Denouement Literary Collective’ which was published in the summer of 2018 and remains one of SD’s proudest achievements.

As editor-in-chief, Christine helped bring not only two of Sudden Denouement’s most anticipated collections of 2018 to press: Rachel Finch’s debut collection, ‘A Sparrow Stirs Its Wings’ and Nicole Lyons’ third collection ‘Blossom and Bone’, but has also edited and added Eric Syrdal’s brilliant novel ‘Pantheon’ to SDP’s catalogue.

Never one to claim the spotlight for herself (though it shines for her) Christine has been the backbone, the kickstart, to each and every brilliant collaboration we have featured on SD.

“I’ve always been in awe of Christine. Not only in terms of her output as a poet, but in how much energy she puts into so many projects. Her level of commitment is like nothing else I have ever seen, and every time I’ve worked with her, she’s given 100%, even with so much on the go. From my early days in Sudden Denouement up to our recent collaboration, Christine has been supportive of me in so many ways, and without that support, and guidance, the last eighteen months wouldn’t have been as satisfying as they have. I’d like to thank her for everything she’s done, not only for me, but for so many others, and I hope she continues to shine her light as brightly as she’s done for a long time coming.” – S.K. Nicholas, author of The Journal For Damned Lovers Volumes I-III

FAITH DON’T LIE – Christine Ray & S.K. Nicholas

It was with great pleasure, and one of SDP’s shining accomplishments, that we were lucky enough to bring Christine’s own debut collection ‘Composition of a Woman’ to press. It is pure Christine Ray – amplified – and we couldn’t be any more proud to feature such a stunning work.

Though Christine has stepped down from SD as editor, all is not lost; she is still a much loved and valued member of the collective and we will continue to publish her work while we promote her exciting new adventures like Indie Blu(e) and Indie Blu(e) Publishing.

“Christine is a tough and tender wild thing, a brilliant writer and editor, and a ferocious friend. She has talent, an eye for it, and a gift for bringing it out in others. She especially has a gift for turning trauma into triumph and encouraging others to do the same. I am proud to call Christine a friend, and invigorated to know that this friendship will last a lifetime. On all levels, Christine is an amazing person. It is a privilege to know her and read her work. I am excited to see where her ambitions will lead her next!”

-Georgia Park, Private Bad Thoughts

We look forward to reading and promoting the brilliant artists and the work Christine and her team at Indie Blu(e) are set to publish very soon.

Here’s a little sneak peek of Christine’s second book of poetry, ‘The Myths Of Girlhood’ slated for publication with IB very soon:

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The Myths of Girlhood – Christine Ray

we were spoiled

for reality

by milk chocolate-coated fairy tales

force fed us as girls

made to swallow

not spit

myths about beauty

love

sex

taught that only pretty, pretty princesses

would be awoken by

true love’s first kiss

impossible standards of beauty

femininity

made for

bitter cherry centers

that left us empty

starving

hollow

how old were we

when we learned

that mere mortal girls

like us

would never be beautiful enough

thin enough

kind enough

pure enough

to win Prince Charming’s gold enrobed heart?

we ate up the lessons that with the right make-up

the right clothes

shoes

if we took enough quizzes

in Seventeen magazine

about how to be popular

how to catch his eye

contorted ourselves into pretzels

we might almost be enough

to be invited to dance at the ball

drink a brief taste of the pink champagne dream

before the clock struck midnight

and we turned back

into pumpkins

 

From all of us at Sudden Denouement, and Sudden Denouement Publishing, thank you Christine, for all you have done for us and for all you have given of yourself. You are irreplaceable, unforgettable, and we hold you in the highest esteem.

Introducing the “I Knew. . .” Response Collaboration

Being a member of a writing collective has many benefits. One of these perks is the opportunity to write with other amazing writers, which is both creatively stimulating and challenges us to write our best work.  Collaborations are something we do very well at Sudden Denouement and we have some very exciting collaborations coming up for our readers in August in honor of reaching our second anniversary on WordPress.

Many of our collaborations are planned but sometimes the most amazing things can happen organically among writers. Earlier this week,  Kindra M. Austin wrote a piece for Blood Into Ink, which inspired Aurora Phoenix to write a response poem for Whisper and the Roar, which then inspired a group of really talented writers to keep writing.  The Editors at Sudden Denouement think that this informal collaboration is something really special and we would like to share this group of powerful poems with you today. We hope that you are as inspired by them as we were.

If these amazing pieces inspire you to write your own response, please submit it to submissionssuddendenouement@gmail.com. You may just find yourself published on SD!

I Knew My Pain – Aurora Phoenix

I knew my pain when it was a screeching
sunset
spurting cotton candy carnage
across the feathered heavens
mocking all that is soft and soothing
drawing my gaze
up and up, tearstained
\thundering scarlet refrains\
reverberating clang of your loss.
I knew my pain when it was a snarling
saber-tooth
birthed of my rent ventricles
spewing aortic dirges
feasting on festering anguish
\clamorous gluttony\
heartache grew fangs
fueled on midnight howling
and my heart gnawed raw itself.
I knew my pain when it was a stinging
nettle
clinging needy-puppy to my shins
\all scratch and scrape reminders\
of the bite that replaced the soul
in the deep chocolate of your iris.
I knew my pain when it was creeping
ivy
camouflaged among wistful greening
arisen from the fetid heap
\itching a glitch in my hopeful healing\
tendrils sneak snake-oil slick
renders my skin hopeless raw
where it lingered
in the shadow of your touch.
I knew my pain when it was tempered
steel
inlaid with soulful etchings
\mother of my surviving pearl soul\
I raise the blades coated
in my fevered blood
hammered now, the plowshares
of my hard- won stance.


Aurora Phoenix is a wordsmithing oxymoron. Staid suburbanite cloaks a badass warrior wielding weapon grade phrases. Read more of her confabulations at Insights from “Inside.”

I Knew My Invisibility- Candice Louisa Daquin

I knew my invisibility when
the lady next to my mother in the nursing ward
took me in her arms out of pity
for there was nobody there who cared
to rock a crying child , who was not wanted
by hedonists who erred in pregnancy

I knew my invisibility when
my mother tucked  bus ticket in her blouse
kissed me goodnight for the final time
explaining she needed to get out and breathe
did not remember to keep the door ajar
and the night vanquished me in her absence

I knew my invisibility when
my father silently resented single-parenting
did not pick me up outside the school gates
the boys in the projects threw stones and jeered
shouted “show me your stinking snatch, bitch”
until I learned to climb trees and wait and wait and wait

I knew my invisibility when
my grandfather told me to sit on his lap
the only attention was the wrong kind and sick
everyone else got busy like they didn’t know what was
happening
bit like being chained to a rock and watching for The Gorgon

I knew my invisibility when
my friends in bikinis had boys stuck to them like bees
cooing as birds will underneath willow trees
whilst I was bitten by mosquitos not men
and the ordinariness of me was the best repellent
no need to spray tan, just stand and burn

I knew my visibility when
I broke into pieces and watched them descend
unwilling to drown I reached out and a hand pulled
me out of the darkness and into her universe
where for the first time I was seen and loved
for who I was and not a cream centered assortment
Blindly plucked from a candy box

 

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.

I Know My Worth- Devereaux Frazier

I know my worth
Are you sure about that 
They ask me in the twilight hours
Caressing the vain sense and sensibilities
Of someone already caught in the eye
Storms vast, lighting strikes wide and deadly
The waves toss my hapless soul overboard
And plunge me deep into the abyss of sorrows
But alas, they are not my own
Not mine to keep
Just bitter tales of man and woman
Too deep in love to remain apart
When the fates have aligned they should
Swords run through aghast faces
Spears pluck the youth from their mothers
And leave carcasses piled high to heaven
Are you sure you know your worth 
When everyone around you is bleeding
And everything is choking on the blood
Not of their own, and not of yours
But of their forefathers, and all their mistakes
How blessed can life truly be when pain
Is served for each and every meal
There is no remedy for the man of burden
Toiling away, he writes his passions in the dust
With each breath he loses a day
But gains a star in the ever present firmament
One day I too will join my star family
One day I will know what it means to be home
So when they ask me
Are you sure you know your worth 
I will say no
Because as long as I’m here I cannot say
My path has hardly started, and goals
Simply fooled with
But those who come after me can say
Without an inkling of doubt
Who I was
Yes, we knew his worth 
In the world he created, we too can create 
And in continuing on the path of peace
Redeem the time so solemnly granted
And eagerly withdrawn 


Devereaux Frazier is a teen poet and writer from Baltimore, Maryland. He’s been published twelve times on SpillWords, with “Pleadings Against The Preposterous” being nominated for Publication Of the Month of May. He’s also been published five times on TeenInk, with “Less Than Human” being published in the October 2016 edition of their magazine. He placed second in Blood Into Ink’s January #MeToo writing contest. Literary Arts Review has published three of his poems as well. In addition to being a guest barista for Go Dog Go Cafe and member of The Writing Hour, he runs his own poetry blog, which was voted best of 2017 by Kendall Person of The Neighborhood.

There Were Things I Did Not Know – Lois E. Linkens

There were things I did not know (could not know).
There were words I was yet to write, a still
Small voice, yet to claim. ‘Tis life’s greatest thrill,
To light an unknown match, and watch it glow.
I would do great things. I would swing my feet
O’er fences, walls, tall gates to walk amid
The places I had never seen, and bid
Farewell to my young self, to future meet.
Places that could hold me fast, scoop me out
And fill me with their beads, their jasmine ways.
Here comes tomorrow in its dusky haze.
I have seen the future; she’s ours to sprout.
Where so much is known today, I decree
To stay a great surprise, most so to me.


Lois is a poet and student from England. She is studying the literature of the Romantics and hopes their values and innovations will filter through into her own work. She is working on longer projects at present, with a hope to publish poetry collections and novels in the years to come. She is a feminist, an nostalgic optimist, and a quiet voice in the shadows of Joanne Baillie and Charlotte Smith. It is a pleasure to present her work, and you can find more of it at Lois E. Linkens.

I Knew My Faults-Sarah Doughty

“I knew my faults.
And they always stared
back at me in the mirror.”

As long as I can remember, I knew my faults. They were engraved in my flesh, repeated so often that even I saw nothing else. I knew every one. Believed every one. I was every one.
I knew my faults when I was toddling around, learning how to speak, how to walk, how to cower.
I knew my faults when I began school. How I wasn’t smart enough, not social enough. How I was a target in school. And at night.
I knew my faults in the dark. I learned my best to do what was required of me, but I was never quite good enough. I knew what my hands needed to do, how my lips should stay soft, or how my hips were supposed to move with the right timing. After awhile, I knew those moves just enough to get by.
I knew my faults. And they always stared back at me in the mirror.


Sarah Doughty is the tingling wonder-voice behind Heartstring Eulogies. She’s also the author of The Silence Between Moonbeams, her poetry chapbook, and the acclaimed novels and novellas of the Earthen Witch Universe. Good news, they’re all offered for free, right here! To learn more about how awesome Sarah is, check out her website, stalk her on Goodreads, or both.