In the book Fortress, Kristina Marie Darling’s voice is as strong and recognizable as ever, as she employs many of the tropes, themes, images, and symbolism that she does in other books, like Requited, Night Songs, X Marks the Dress, and others. A connection between the human body and the physical landscape is definitely present here. In fact, the book opens in the prologue, an erasure poem, saying:
this book has only/circles, for/ when we enter into/pain/it finds a voice, it begins to tell/about the/larger structures of/events happening/within the interior of that person’s body/an invisible geography…
This section is also quite meta, which is also a trait of Darling’s work. As usual, this book raised many questions for me, such as what these meta moments were trying to tell the reader about the text. Why must we be reminded that we are reading a book? Why is this important for the poet? There were also mentions of a documentary. Why were documentaries also mentioned, and what is this book a document of?
Mainly because of the use of footnotes, and no text to accompany these footnotes, and the many floral-themed images, I saw parallels between Darling’s work, and that of Jenny Boully’s books, such as Not Merely Because of the Unknown That Was Stalking Towards Them, [One Love Affair]* and The Body: An Essay. Darling certainly makes good use of her influences, if Boully was indeed one of them.
These footnotes remind me again that sometimes, what is left out of a text, what is left unsaid is just as, if not more important than what is said. But what was Darling not saying after all?
What was also interesting to me were the repeated images like dead poppies, which reappear again and again, as well as repeated phrases, such as, “…the most startling numbness in every fingertip.” I wonder what these repeated images signify, and what they are trying to communicate to the reader.
I’m also wondering what kind of a dialog exists between the footnotes we see in most of the book’s sections, and the erasure, which is taken from Elaine Scarry’s The Body in Pain, which I have not read yet. I wonder in what ways Darling is using her poetic legacies to inform her work.
Another question I have involves the mythology present in the book. Persephone is a prominent figure here. I wonder in what other ways mythology informs Darling’s work?
Because of so many similarities in Darling’s substantial collection of work, I am looking forward to a book of collected poems. I wonder what kind of dialog exists between Darling’s collections, which includes thirteen books (and counting)! I am looking forward to reading more books from Kristina Marie Darling, (such as The Sun & the Moon). You can find out more about Darling and her work at her website, which can be found by following this link.