Uncategorized

Valerie Morton showcases Kathleen Strafford – Her Own Language

strafford

“And I am perpetually waiting for a thought so passionate and alive
it has an architecture of its own

I am forever waiting to be taken by surprise.”

from I am Waiting (tribute to Ferlinghetti)

These words from Kathleen Strafford’s brilliant debut collection are more than fulfilled with the turn of each page. In “Her Own Language” Strafford demolishes structure and reconstructs words in a way which is unique, exciting and unexpected. There is great skill in the way her lines rock and roll and yet slow their pace at the right moment, allowing pauses through her varied formats for the reader to absorb the everyday with new eyes. It is refreshing to feel at one with her, that she has her audience in mind as she writes.

Every line in this collection is captivating in itself making it difficult to choose a favourite, but there is one that continuously revolves in my head:

“as if I could buy back all the days”

(from Handbag from Ohio):

“I slide everything back inside like it’s currency
as if I could buy back all the days
…………and nights the moon
…………opened up his arms
…………& in the morning wake
…………to find my cheek
…………on the roundness of his belly”

It is impossible not to relate to this nostalgic, yet unsentimental longing in everybody to re-capture the past, even just for a fleeting moment.

Another line that stays with me and epitomises the pull of this collection is from the opening poem Her Own Language:

“There’s a sideways balance in the corner of daybreak”

Strafford has the ability to look at big subjects from new angles – sex, love, death, loss, and joy – her wicked sense of humour often disguising the pathos within : her voice is bold, unafraid to be heard from the rooftops and yet has the quietness of conviction. This is assured writing, varied and surprising at every turn. Her often light, humorous tone disguises depths displayed in audacious punchlines as in :

First Time

“……..
occasionally now
in the shank of the night …………        I see him.
At my approach
his lip twists
into a sneer
Within each dilated pupil
he flaunts fragments
………………………………….of hymen

the way a cat parades
a piece of torn wing
so I stand
……..gazing at his face
……..yearning to shout
Give it back, give it all back
Yet knowing the whole time
…………………….his cock
………………………will always have
………………………..my name on it.”

This collection swings back and forth – from the hilarious Conversations About Socks “hip hop hopping away” to the sinister A Hundred Ways to Cook Potatoes “she told me in the night/he creeps half-baked/into her bedroom/trying to peel her” to the most beautiful and tender Sewing:

Sewing

I search for you
in my sewing box

Your threads were knitted and purled

All came unravelled
as the doctor subdued the room
……………………….with woven whispers

I embroidered stars to your fingers
……………………….music to your perfect lips

How easily you slipped from me

How can I unpick your name
where every snapped thread is a
……………………………………….full stop?

.

 

You can hear Kathleen Strafford reading here

I would strongly recommend a cosy chair, a glass of your favourite wine, and this book – an unforgettable experience.

Available from Dempsey and Windle Publishing HERE

Advertisements

1 thought on “Valerie Morton showcases Kathleen Strafford – Her Own Language”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s