In her first major collection for a decade, Judith Kazantzis proves herself again to be the constant sister of invention and imagination. Meditating on the deaths of her parents and of her brother, and on the arrival of a new grandchild, she reconfigures Greek myth from a Feminist perspective to address today’s inequalities The poems range across the violent geography of Palestine and Iraq to the bright landscapes of the American Southwest, from the sensual utopia of ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ to the dark inner continents of bereavement and grief. Sister Invention combines irony and wit, dramatic brilliance and profound quiet in order to explore what it means to be a sister and a daughter, a mother and a grandmother.
The mountain has the skin of a snake, blue and green and glowing, flowing downwards, grasping what or who she's caught in her breath until she sheds and runs at the sea. The ladder is a phantasm, ivory steps you sketch in a trice on paper. But you are there and so you must feign: rosy rivets, arches, shafts, gems: tourmaline and toffee agate. The posted signs sigh, no hooks, crutches, ride your white horse, rings on your toes with cowbells on your cold, cold fingers to the cross of the land where whirlwinds keep the rattling gates. How the lift goes up and down touching between howling floors: lingerie, double boilers, lad lit, chick lit paradise flowers, cream curtains madam inviting your little ringed fingers. Oh but the horse steps up the amber stair for she is your sister the horse of the see-through stairs, the jingling bridle in the naked hand. And you? Her constant sister of invention.
'My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun' Shakespeare My lover's eyes are rather like the sun, or rather, like his horses flashing their wild eyes along the run: Look how he forces or seduces the horsemanship of light upon the earth in hiding, and how she turns her back upon the sun, or goes out riding.
In my garden home sit Adam and Eve, without leaves. Mr and Mrs Blake are drinking tea. In my drawing room the wolves and the tigers roam, the lion makes his desart throne. But in my bedroom he lies down with the lamb, the curly headed woman and the man.
There in the woods stand two entwined aspens. I hear they are that pair, Baucis and Philemon long in the service of god, who chose never to leave the other. Here in the garden we sit before the tea tray, eat chocolate biscuits, one each, and talk of plants and birds and trees. Your glowing face turns to me: tell me. You want to hear everything, that impossible menu. I soufflé a life. My father talks away on the phone by the door. Two trees of life, not in the woods, but in the garden.
'extraordinarily seductive… the pure work of poetry, tacking and veering between vernaculars and lyrical writing'
'everything she tries seems to work.'
'a poetry of sensuous immediacy, couched in an agile, conversational style'
'shows just how powerful, politically and personally, poetry can be.'