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BRUSHES WITH by Kristina Marie Darling reviewed in WORD RIOT



Brushes With by Kristina Marie Darling

Review by Ben Moeller-Gaa

There are many different kinds of books out there. Some ask questions. Some answer questions. And some lie in between. Kristina Marie Darling’s books fall into the latter category. Her work actually goes a step further and requires the reader to ask their own questions and search for their own answers. Darling is a master of empty spaces, both being unafraid to leave most of the physical page of a book empty, giving us only footnotes to decipher, but also for allowing empty space within the text that allows you to enter into it and make of it what you will. It takes guts to do this and great skill to do it right. When reading Brushes With, her guts and skill quickly become evident.

This is a book of flash fiction consisting of 8 short titled pieces/chapters that don’t quite fill up a single page along with two illustrations that serve up as the Appendix. These pieces are not told in chronological order and are impossible to decipher without the footnotes. Each piece contains anywhere from 5 to 17 footnotes. The footnotes are the keys to unlocking the text even as they spin it on its head. Whether the footnotes are based on factual real world truth or simply part of the fiction is up to you to decide. Either way, they speak to the truth of the book. For example, in the piece titled “ANTARCTICA”, we have the following lines:

So I sit down and try to carve a man from a block of ice.
In every direction, the same snow-covered fields. 24

These are footnoted with the following:

24. Throughout the nineteenth century lyric poetry, the heroine’s desires are
projected onto the meadow itself.


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BRUSHES WITH by Kristina Marie Darling featured in Extract(s)

Brushes with by Kristina Marie Darling is featured at Extract(s): Daily Dose of Lit.  Here's the link:


Kristina Marie Darling is the author of fifteen books, which include Melancholia (An Essay) (Ravenna Press, 2012),Petrarchan (BlazeVOX Books, 2013), and a forthcoming hybrid genre collection called Fortress (Sundress Publications, 2014).  Her awards include fellowships from Yaddo, 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 is currently working toward a Ph.D. in Poetics at S.U.N.Y.-Buffalo.

Brushes With is available now from BlazeVOX[books].

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Kristina Marie Darling has Two New Reviews



Kristina Marie Darling has two new great reviews. The first is a review on her book Vow, which was just published in the November issue of Stirring: A Literary Collection.   




The second is an insightful review-in-footnotes of Petrarchan in the new issue of Diagram reviewed by Lisa Ampleman.




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Brushes with, by Kristina Marie Darling reviewed on Poet Hound


Kristina Marie Darling's Brushes With

Kristina Marie Darling strikes again with creating a surreal and memorable journey through her particular style of writing in Brushes With, a collection that captures a romance that is no longer, scenes and footnotes that entice and leave the reader curious and wanting more. The works themselves provide enticing instances of foreshadowing for the doomed relationship. Darling contrasts light and dark, physical space versus the words inside one’s mind, memories and imagery delicately entwine. Below I am happy to share some samples:


We were no longer in love. The sky, too, was beginning to show its wear. A silk lining could be seen through every slit in the dark green fabric. 1
I started to wonder where we went wrong. You were holding a map of the constellations.2 Each of the minor stars had been assigned to a square on a little grid. The map seemed scientific so I approached you.3
You kept looking down at your compass. The needle spinning beneath a little screw. Maybe this is where we went wrong.
Above us, the sky is still wearing its green dress. The most delicate strings holding it all in place.

1. The photographs portray this dress as one of the most violent manifestations of the heroine’s femininity.
2. At the edge of the map, she could discern a cluster of minor stars. Their incessant movement seemed difficult to comprehend, let alone to document.
3. “I had wanted to understand the cause of this fearful disturbance. Within my compass the needle kept spinning and spinning.”

*I apologize that my footnotes’ numbers do not appear like they should, that is the limitation of trying to transfer her work to a blog post. I will say that I love how she creates her text and ties footnotes to them, along with pages of just footnotes. In this piece the overwhelming darkness and the avoidance of eye contact depicts a couple avoiding each other even while present in each other’s lives. The comparison of the sky to dark green fabric with silk lining is romantic and delicate, so delicate that strings hold it in place and threaten to smother the couple should the fabric break free. Whether that was the meaning behind Darling’s piece I do not know, I only know that it is how I picture it for myself. Darling is a master at creating a visually stimulating piece weighted with more emotion than you initially read into. 
Read the whole review here
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Boston Review Microreviews Counting Sheep Until Doomsday by Carlo Matos

Boston Review Microreviews Counting Sheep Until Doomsday by Carlo Matos


Microreview: Counting Sheep Until Doomsday, Carlo Matos

September 11, 2013
Counting Sheep Till Doomsday
by Carlo Matos
BlazeVOX Books, $16 (paper)


The prose poems in Carlo Matos’s second collection engage questions about the nature of free will: How does one discern fate from one’s choices? To what extent will one’s life be circumscribed by the actions of others? Amidst all of this, what is the purpose of violence? As the book unfolds, answers to these questions multiply, suggesting the impossibility of claiming such knowledge. For example, Matos writes at the beginning of a sequence called “Fate*,” “You’re gonna’ go out. You’re gonna’ start a fight with a bear, and you’re gonna’ lose.” These sentences imply at first that one is capable of discerning fate from freely made choices. Perhaps more importantly, Matos suggests that this knowledge manifests through an engagement with language. The sequence shatters these initial expectations as the poet re-inscribes the same images with myriad possibilities for interpretation. Language becomes unstable, equivocal. He writes, “Elija asked god to send she-bears to tear the teeth from the children who mocked him bald—so many stones pulling the skulls.” Here Matos revisits the bears, imbuing them with a religious dimension not present before, and the bears become a figure for providence.

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Photos on flickr