Saturday, November 18, 2023

Clock Star Rose Spine, by Fran Wilde

Clock Star Rose Spine, by Fran Wilde

a review by Rich Horton

I have been enjoying Fran Wilde's fiction for quite a while now, but I wasn't really aware of her poetry. (Likely I should have been, given that a story like "Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand" could be seen as a long prose poem.) But I ran across a copy of her collection of poems, Clock Star Rose Spine at a convention a while ago, and snapped it up. I had sampled it from time to time, but I didn't remember to read it all through until seeing Fran at the World Fantasy Convention recently (and having her sign the book.)

Forgive me for my vocabulary for reviewing poetry isn't at the level as I think it is for fiction. But I'll do what I can! I'll start by mentioning that we sometimes think that our genre fiction writers will write genre poetry -- but that doesn't need to be the case at all! For one thing, in the classic sense, poetry is a genre all its own. But for another thing -- the conventions of genre, what makes a genre writer a genre writer (and remembering that many writers can't be pigeonholed as "genre" writers anyway) is usually plot, or setting, or speculation. What makes poetry poetry is (mostly!) language. And language is important to any writer. (Or I should hope it is -- insert snide Dan Brown remark here if you wish!)

Clock Star Rose Spine was published in 2021 by Lanternfish Press. It is illustrated by the author, very nicely. (I had no idea Fran was an artist as well!) There are four sections, one for each word of the title. The poems are sometimes intensely personal (including eight "Self Portraits") ... actually, they are all intensely personal, but some more obviously so than others. There are some poems that do fit in the SF/F genre, such as "Self Portrait as a Selkie" and "You are Two Point Three Meters from Your Destination". There are poems about family, poems about place, poems about art, poems about people, poems about ideas. So it should be for every collection! There are poems that ache, poems that smile, lines that land perfectly.

A few favorite poems: "Clock Star Rose Spine", "You are Two Point Three Meters from Your Destination", "A Catalog of Lost Negatives", "Comet Garment", "Wish Boat", "Theft", "Orrery", "Self Portrait as Event Horizon". (My mother would scold me for calling eight "a few" -- "that's several," she would say, when I took "a few" cookies!)

A few favorite lines: "A series of gates -- too small to pass through.", "the ink bleeding tendrils of blue throught the bright",  "No one knows we're standing still, even when we're not dancing", "Your words float on the wind.", "Even the word does what it says, each "r" spun around the big "O".

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