ARE WE NEARLY THERE YET?
I’ve read it and reread it and read it again, and it doesn’t pall. She wants to write words, she says (p.13) and, by God, she does: wily wriggly words, wise and witty words, “sassily succinct”. Wry reflections, hard memories, in-your-face assertions, what-the-fuck questions – she deals with them all honestly (almost brutally at times). The poems are punchy, funny and lyrical. So are the stories, for the most part. She knows when to drop the comic stuff. “Things my father said” could rip your heart. Try reading them aloud to yourself or to others. I have and they’re a joy to hear.
She has a great ear for the music of words, for the cadence of a phrase. There are whole poems which are obvious examples – “I want to write words”, “Words 2”, “Let us praise words” – but her feel for the choice term at the right time runs through the whole book.
Look at the impact of ‘violently’ in the last line of “Why grieving is like a bruise”, or ‘scraped’ in the final line of “Writing with a knife” or, on a different emotional level (though, on second thoughts, maybe not), the tastiness of ‘plopping my passion’ and the sheer loneliness of ‘any warty embrace’ in “Fairytale ending”. Her onomatopaeic deconstruction of ‘promiscuous’ in “Words 2” is a one-line poem in itself, and it’s hard to see how the contrast with ‘Battered celibate’ could be improved upon.
It’s very gutsy writing, covering a broad spectrum: love, loss, ageing, loneliness, death – sounds like a bucket of laughs, yes? Well, OK, it’s not an actual BUCKET of laughs, but there’s a lot of laughter in it. She treats much of her subject matter with a degree and type of humour which serves to underscore the serious point that’s being made. Take a look at “Proxy Botox”. It’s funny; people laugh out loud when they hear it read. It’s hard not to laugh at the ‘unalterable logic of homeopathy’ and the descriptive perfection of ‘a startled cabbage-patch doll’. But the final stanza is utterly serious. There’s nothing funny about ‘these tide-marks of mortality’, just as there’s nothing bad or ugly or undesirable about them either. This is Crysse Morrison. What you see is what you get. This is her. And she’s good.
Mo Robinson, musician singer and songwriter.