Review of Alice Kinsella’s Flower Press, The Onslaught Press, 2018 – by Mark Ulyseas
Ulyseas has served time in advertising as copywriter and creative director selling people things they didn’t need, a ghost writer for some years, columnist of a newspaper, a freelance journalist and photographer. In 2009 he created Live Encounters Magazine, in Bali, Indonesia. It is a not for profit (adfree) free online magazine featuring leading academics, writers, poets, activists of all hues etc. from around the world. March 2016 saw the launch of its sister publication Live Encounters Poetry, which was relaunched as Live Encounters Poetry & Writing in March 2017. He has edited, designed and produced all of Live Encounters’ 122 publications till date. Mark’s philosophy is that knowledge must be free and shared freely (without charge) to empower all towards enlightenment. He is the author of three books: RAINY – My friend & Philosopher, Seductive Avatars of Maya – Anthology of Dystopian Lives and In Gethsemane: Transcripts of a Journey. www.amazon.com
I’ve started to write down
the things I want to tell you.
Random thoughts from bus journeys,
books I think you’d like.
I collect the words and fold them
press them like petals,
leave them to be preserved.
Someday, I’ll open up this book
and be glad to find
these long-lost printed
skeletons of you.
– Alice Kinsella, Flower Press
The title poem sums up this debut collection by Kinsella, where her words are honestly placed together to form images that, on second or third reading, begin to settle in the mind like pollen on a butterfly’s wings. They gently nudge the reader to respond by recollecting one’s own past, growing up in colliding worlds of tenses – past, present and ethereal.
Is Alice rummaging in her past to conjure up what should have been and not what had been? Is this collection a tribute to those years freckled by timeless days and smell of the earth as the Messiah Frog is buried? Or, is this a beautiful paradoxical sanctuary created by the poet to retreat to whenever reality strikes to remind her of the alienation of adulthood. Is this why this book begins with this quote –
They know that at some point you stop being children, and at that point you become strangers – Louise Gluck – ?
In Perwinkle (I) Alice holds our hand and guides us …
Curled sunshine shell like the buttercup
reflection on your chin,
shimmering summer sea surface,
as we held our fingers too close
to each other’s faces for the first time.
And then, in Starlight, she throws us back into the dark sea of pathos…
I’d sit up sometimes even then,
whispering your name into the stars,
the lowing of mothers hanging heavy
late into the night.
They did not know that
what they were calling
was already dead.
The innocence of a child is alive and kicking in this debut collection, in the simple words that the poet uses to construct her montage that forces the reader to reflect, introspect and perhaps, to some extent, attempt to reach back into the past to view one’s own flickering images of those growing up years.
Truly moving are these lines from Regret…
I’m sorry. I regret it. Those answers have slipped away now, dissolved like ash on the wind as I queue to see you for the last time. And there is your face as white as your robes. I can see every one of your years in the mouth that can no longer say those words. So I breathe—
One can never really understand or decipher a poem without relating it to one’s own life experiences. But often words used by poets act as barricades to comprehension. Perhaps this is why this collection is so unique for the plainness of words removes all hurdles to comprehension and leaves the readers free to filigree their understanding of the poems. This empowers the reader and in a wonderful way entices them further into the world of Alice Kinsella.
The wisdom of a child is self-evident in Flower Press.
Let us embrace it.
© Mark Ulyseas