Candice Ward’s chapbook is one of those beautifully glittering rarities that seldom surface, but when they do, it seems they do so stealthy (in keeping with a mysterious art) half lit & partially obscured.
I must admit to trawling through various online journals in search of her elusive work, since coming across her sometime ago in a remarkable stretching volume of Stand magazine. It was a disappointing fact to find no hard-copy volumes of her work, strange also, given that poets less agile over the language terrain have one or indeed many. So on hearing that Wild Honey Press was to have a pamphlet for the offering, I experienced that rare sense of excitement that is comparable, I reckon, to the expectant J. K. Rowling fan.
On its arrival I turned the thin hand stitched chapbook with its green Strata card cover, over and over in my hand, surveying the surface to soak up its detail. The front cover illustration had an eye-lit quality with a moon-like sphere centrally placed like a pupil set into a mutable surface (looking right back at you).
The first poem is rather fittingly entitled ‘Lens & Covenant’, a reading of which could offer to set in motion the poetry’s engagement with perception: ‘Say I have my eye on you, then blink¾snap//you up like a blind’. A ‘covenant’ perhaps between what is viewed and the viewer: shuttered sight, obscurity, a reading of ‘blind’ as an obstruction or hindrance to sight or light.
From “Run-on Ghazal, Undone”:
Naturally, you imagine her eyes of some maternal color
brighter ahead than gazania as she leaps and takes you
aback without a glance to keep you in stride . . .
A typical characteristic of the Gazania flower is that they are particular to light. Sight and light: ‘eyes/ color, brighter/ glance’, walk through ‘leap’ and ‘stride’ across and over the poems surface, playing with ‘states of consciousness’, allowing the inter-connectivity of perception and dreams to be within the ‘phenomenon of the world’. A trail which could possibly follow Merleau-Ponty, ‘[in] seek[ing] the essence of perception [...] to declare that perception is, not presumed true, but defined as access to truth.’
From “The Moon Sees the One”:
for in your father’s house
of cheats are too many
dimensions¾and the moon
looks on, indifferent to
its own mystery, to
the children gazing back
from an orphan age
What strikes through so vividly from out the core, are the children, the sense of being a child and having been a child; She commits, in form and soundings, shaping the intellectual brevity and humour crafted within a parental concord of being & been. Individual poems stand as a whole, but a recognition of and respect for otherness threads them into a community. Woman as body of language, duplicitous workings, perceived and otherwise, navigates perhaps & dialectically if necessary, mother / object / earth ¾ parent / lover / child ¾ sexual desire strapped into the lyrically heeled body of a nursery rhyme, yet richer and more puzzlingly befitting, chameleon pastoral with no eject?
From Dire (2/4) Time:
looking to get lucky, or even, you are stoked for
winter, gifted and so starved to the letter the mother
tongue opens my mouth to suggestion, my hunger
to conjure magic bullets for an orphan with no gun
(we all need someone to choke or chew on)
when something breaks, something goes
under, quicker to fade than fugitive color, no
bluer or slower than time’s figure, a belle
of a burlesque queen, rain-missioned in
satin to button it up just for you
(my glove) and take it all back
to your dire satisfaction
The deft delivery, the delight in the dance of words draws favourable comparisons I think with the likes of Swinburne, cummings, Laura (Riding) Jackson and more contemporary figures like Denise Riley. This dance allows for a very accessible poetry not overburdened with intellectual idealism, it also has a wonderful mysterious quality that is altogether gnomic:
From Vertigo under Mistletoe
so infant limbs do
blanch to lose their
outdoor color and
touch my robe!
O babe be not
desire of nations
mark my step
my good page
holly mistletoe red berries ivy
turkeys geese game poultry brawn pigs sausages oysters
pies puddings fruit punch all instantly
Mark Dickinson was born in Scarborough UK and attended Hull University’s Scarborough campus. His poems have previously appeared in Shearsman, The Gig anthology Onsets, Intercapillary Space and work is forthcoming from The Peek Review. His first collection Littoral was published by Prest Roots Press in 2007.
The Internet address of this page is http://jacketmagazine.com/34/dickinson-ward.shtml