Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Review: Melancholia (An Essay) by Kristina Marie Darling

I have been following the work of Kristina Marie Darling for many years now. She's been published a few times in Chantarelle's Notebook and I've put two chapbooks of her work into the world via Maverick Duck Press. If there's one thing that Darling doesn't lack, it's the ability to vividly paint a story with striking images and exquisite language. Melancholia (An Essay) is a small book, comparable to Neruda's Twenty Love Poems, though I feel the comparisons between the two end soon after that. Melancholia is experimental, but not devoid of emotion. The passages are presented as letters, lists, definitions and footnotes, but could just as well be journal entries. Trinkets and jewelry are large parts of the story and are used as metaphors for a relationship that slowly reveals itself to be crumbling, though it might not have had legs to stand on to begin with. It starts almost ominously with: 
Dearest—

you were like bits of broken glass when the
jewelry box shattered

night & the ocean’s coldest shore

With much of Darling's work, you have to read into what the images reveal. The book doesn't seemingly present itself as melancholic, however "Soon the landscape seemed almost mechanical. Water rising and falling like the needle on a telegraph." is a striking revelation at the end of the book. Ultimately, the heroine's melancholia is released in short, concise bursts throughout. It is a quick read and if you don't read carefully, you could miss the plot, but it stands as another fine collection in Darling's growing canon.