Monday, March 29, 2010

Rest Cure by Sandra Ridley (Apt. 9 Press, 2009)

to begin, a small word about Apt. 9 Press. so far there have been 7 limited edition chapbooks: 6 poetry and 1 fiction; 6 from Ottawa, 1 from Toronto. the quality of the production is excellent: stitched binding, fine paper, cellophane wrapped for the collector. the offerings have been eclectic and representative of the skill and creativity of Ottawa (and a Toronto) writers.

what i want when i read poetry is to be spellbound by images and sound. Rest Cure accomplishes this for me. in minimal and carefully chosen language, Ridley mesmerizes, evoking the character of a poorly woman with language that is reminiscent of a bygone era. each poem pays heed to the senses; when necessary, Ridley troubles syntax , but not in a heavy-handed way, just wee nudges that slow down the momentum. lines are built and broken based on rhythm, image, sound. Ridley has given us mood, tone and enough exquisite detail to allow us to be compelled by this character, but she hasn’t gone overboard. she’s given us space to fill in for ourselves. this is an excerpt from a longer manuscript called Post-Apothecary. Rest Cure satisfies like a curative elixir, yet leaves us craving another draught.

Before running on nightshade & wormwood in a topiary maze.

Before hawthorn punctures her arm : poison tipped.

Before a peck of stones, she handpicks or pockets,
she is camphor-doused
& blinded
by a fold of wool : wet & held tight to her eyes.

Before his screen & clips & the red light & darkening, his hands pressed
to his switchboard & mirror : apparatus of the in-out & charged.

Before her fluoroscopic diapositive &
the smell of two kinds of heat.

Nothing left hidden in her body.

Before & after, there is only this : four corners to a room
& the others pounding at the door.

No comments: