Kristina Marie Darling’s work has appeared on Poet Hound before with her collection titled The Body is a Little Gilded Cage: A Story in Letters and Fragments and I am pleased to share with you her latest collection published in 2012 by BlazeVOX books titled The Moon & Other Inventions: Poems After Joseph Cornell. The collection is as dreamy as the last one featured on Poet Hound. This series of poems, divided up into chapters, are a series of footnotes for her various chapters on A History of Inventions, Ornithology, Cartography, and more. The pages are mostly blank space as though the text of the chapters are missing while the footnotes were inextricably left behind. I looked up Joseph Cornell and he was an artist most known for his collages and I imagine these collages are the inspiration behind the footnotes Ms. Darling has created after him. Ms. Darling’s footnote poems are beautiful and release the imagination into the reader’s minds. As you read the footnotes of each chapter you begin to find words that tie in to each other from chapter to chapter creating a pleasant connection that allows you to feel as though you are reading a beautifully imaginative textbook in which the content is somehow all related. Below I am happy to share some with you:
From A History of Inventions:
5. A late eighteenth-century stage play, in which a woman crawls into the hollow shaft of a telescope. The stage directions call for “faint music.” Also the sound of “silk rustling” and “a tiny door coming unhinged.”
6. Nights like this she flipped a little golden switch. That was when the rooms would open up before her.
7. Her ruined correspondence indicates exactly where she would have gathered these dead lilies and perfume bottles.
These footnote poems make me think of Alice in Wonderland with the idea of a woman being small enough to crawl into a telescope and the sound of “a tiny door coming unhinged.” There is magic in these lines, the golden switch that make rooms open up, the ruined correspondence that allude to dead lilies and perfume bottles of which we have no idea what their meaning is or where they come from but strike us in our imagination nonetheless. Since this comes from a chapter about inventions you wonder if the main character in these footnotes created the golden switch and the rooms, the more mystery the more imagination and it is lovely.
1. To swing back and forth with a steady rhythm.
2. To waver, as between conflicting opinions.
3. To vary between extremes, especially within a fixed period of time.
5. During these years, she felt as though she would be faced with a decision. The clock within the cathedral recorded the movements of minor stars. But from its interior a series of unfamiliar notes emerged, that ominous ringing.
6. A late sixteenth-century church record, in which the simple machine turned against the monks. The illustration depicts their attempt to gather water and extinguish the great fire.
This poem creates the image, to me, of a large grandfather clock that is tied more to the celestial than the earthy terrain which it inhabits, its chimes relate to the stars and mark time at a pace that does not coincide with the inhabitants of that church, such as the monks. Whether this is the case I have no earthly idea but the footnotes capture images for the reader to determine the words’ meaning and I love the open-ended invitation to imagine alongside the poet what might be going on.
1. Extremely distressed or agitated
2. Overly complex or ornate.
3. Wearied or exhausted by overwork.
5. The documentary depicts their efforts to develop a machine. This invention was inspired by her experience embalming butterflies. Their mother found the device shattered among various feathers and antennae fragments.
I selfishly picked this one from the words “overwrought” and “overwork” as lately I have been feeling both. To juxtapose the words that relate to overwork with the delicate work that would require unimaginable patience with “embalming butterflies” took me by surprise and I re-read this page several times in delight. It sounds like the creator of the invention was too much for its creator and that is why the creator’s mother finds this delicate machine in pieces along with the butterflies and birds in pieces. Delicate, dangerous, and again, lovely.
If you enjoyed this sample, and I can tell you I cannot do this book justice, it is simply wonderful, you may order a copy of The Moon & Other Inventions: Poems After Joseph Cornell for $12.00 from Amazon.com at:
To learn more about Kristina Marie Darling and her work, visit her website at:
Thanks always for reading, please click in tomorrow…