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Failure Lyric by Kristina Marie Darling reviewed at Sundress Publications

 Donna Vorreyer


Review of Failure Lyric by Kristina Marie Darling
Buffalo: Blazevox Books, 2015. 54 pp. $12, paper.


Failure is a perception that is essentially personal. One person's failure can be another's achievement, and failure implies blame, that there is something or someone faulty that did not result in a desired outcome. Lyric is a word that implies emotionally-charged language. Put the two together, and Failure Lyric is the result, a fractured and blistering portrayal of a broken relationship. 

The book tells the non-linear "story" of a failed relationship, one that seems doomed and distant from its inception. The speaker is never at ease, even at the very beginning. In the poem [First Failures], the speaker relates this story: 

"When we met, by a silver lake at the end of summer, I knew you were looking over my
shoulder, trying to find the woman who would fall in love with you."
[...]
"You waited and waited, but the woman never arrived. I just sat there next to the
refreshments, my best dress already out of fashion."

All the poem titles in the book are bracketed, which fittingly mimics the presentation of the speaker as an observer in this narrative, an afterthought to the siginificant other more than a presence. The book opens with an erasure called [Preface], which starts with the line "The story can't begin," telling the reader from the start that this story will not unravel in a way that we expect. 







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Kristina Marie Darling has Two New Reviews at Poet Hound!

 

Kristina Marie Darling’s Double Feature: The Arctic Circle, Failure Lyric

I admit that lately I have been very slow to read and review books these past two to three years and I can assure you I am working on ways to get back to doing these reviews more often. It will take a bit longer to achieve some of the goals I have set for myself in order to accommodate more reading, writing, and creating. I thank all of my loyal readers for sticking by. In the meantime, I will post as often as I can:

Today I review one of my favorite writers for a Double Feature. Kristina Marie Darling’s work continues to inspire me and sets my imagination spinning. 

First is The Arctic Circle, published by BlazeVox books in 2015, is a haunting collection where the ghost of the first wife lingers over the current couple’s lives. The current wife begins slipping into the first wife’s character, alarmingly the husband voices approval. The environment surrounding them grows cold, frosted over in ice. Below I am happy to share a few pieces:

VOW

The name I was given at birth was no longer my name. When I arrived at the reception hall, I was mistaken for another bride. Laced into the wrong dress, wearing the wrong shoes.

My husband would later confuse me with his last wife. He thought I was supposed to bring him cigarettes, and for a moment that seemed right. He mumbled as I handed him a purple lighter, and I left behind the only life I’d ever known.
But we were so good together. I never argued with him, afraid for years he’d remember his first wife was dead.

This poem describes our main character slipping into an expected persona and losing her individuality to make her partner happy. I fear the number of women who do this daily. I wish they would fight to keep themselves intact. Here, the bride succumbs to what is “expected” of her.
Read the whole review here
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Failure Lyric by Kristina Marie Darling Now Available!

In Failure Lyric, Kristina Marie Darling captures, with an accuracy few have managed before her, the panicked numbness one feels at the end of a marriage. It is a book in which nothing moves and nobody changes, and yet the poems move together, and yet the people in the poems are changed by the movement of the poems—that is to say, although Failure Lyric tells the story of the end of a marriage, it tells that story not from the perspective of the people involved, but from the perspective of time itself, neither embodied nor personified, but just as it is, pushing and pulling on the people caught in the end of the marriage like the wake of a boat. This way of telling is Darling’s own, and it is miraculous.

—Shane McCrae, author of Forgiveness Forgiveness

"At the time the glass case was built, the specimen wasn't quite dead." Working the same way memory works, the way dreams work, the poems of Failure Lyric spiral around the death of a relationship like a pack of detectives. Shattered bottles, the envelope full of winter, the birds burying their dead, the wedding dress too heavy or worn by another, the burning orchids: each has its message. Kristina Marie Darling gives us a narrative in images both surreal and everyday that recur and accrete to evoke a sense of deep and irrevocable loss. It's impossible to read without feeling similarly moved.

—Janet Holmes, author of Humanophone

Kristina Marie Darling’s Failure Lyric begins and ends with erasures, but what remains is nothing short of captivating. Beginnings and endings are bound up in each other as the collection centers around a relationship that seems doomed from the start. Each line branches like an ice crystal into gorgeous imagery that mines the territory between life and death: gardens frozen in full bloom, birds buried in snow, a beloved haunted by the past. This hybrid collection of “failures” catalogs grief by fracturing the world – not to destroy it, but to let in light and make it beautiful.

—Kelly Magee, author of Body Language

 
 
 
 

Kristina Marie Darling is the author of nearly twenty books, which include Melancholia (An Essay) (Ravenna Press, 2012), Petrarchan (BlazeVOX Books, 2013), and Scorched Altar: Selected Poems and Stories 2007-2014 (BlazeVOX Books). Her awards include fellowships from Yaddo, the Ucross Foundation, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and the Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers, as well as grants from the Kittredge Fund and the Elizabeth George Foundation. She was recently selected as a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome.

Book Information:

· Paperback: 54 pages

· Binding: Perfect-Bound

· Publisher: BlazeVOX [books] 

· ISBN: 978-1-60964-193-1

$12

 
  
 

Failure Lyric by Kristina Marie Darling Book Preview

 

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