2014 Gray Wolf Press Review: Katie Ford Poetry Book

2014 Gray Wolf Press Review: Katie Ford’s Blood Lyrics (Poetry)

By: V.C. McCabe

Katie Ford’s upcoming poetry collection, Blood Lyrics, possesses an authentic fierceness of emotion coupled with a literary eloquence that is all too rare in modern poetry. Blood Lyrics will be released by Gray Wolf Press on October 21st.

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[ O where has our meadow gone?
that which swept us here?
the orange cosmos and aster?
the hollycock and pollen-fire?
So I sing of hell
and the brutal body. ]

As the gut-wrenching final line of her opening poem “Spell” testifies, these poems were born along with Ford’s fragile premature baby daughter. It is that intense mix of maternal love and fear of loss that drives these poetic words.

I’m incapable of writing an unbiased review since the subject of Ford’s writing hits close to home with my family, but I think the emotional power and sheer beauty of her phrasing would be just as impressive without a kindred experience.

To Read of Slaughter,” for example, adroitly describes in succinct perfection the eerie, telling force of “silence” as representative of an absence — the sober realization of having been left behind in the wake of another’s leavetaking.

Ford expertly examines the “Trivial” aspects of daily life in the shadow, or “horror show,” of a loved one’s suffering and potential death. She also expresses the cruelty of dread at a time when “there should have been delight, delight and windchimes, delight.”

Less compelling to me were the more universal themes presented in the book’s second section, “The Long War.” Ford remains adept at her craft, but I personally feel those middle poems lack the punch of sincerity felt in the first section, “Bloodline.”

Thankfully, the final poem, “From the Nursery,” gracefully ties the two seemingly contradictory threads of motherhood and war together. Blood Lyrics is a magnificent book, inside and out.

“Don’t say it’s the beautiful I praise. I praise the human, gutted and rising.”

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