Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review of Muse on Canadian Poetries Blog

The original review can be found here:

          "You painted yourself inconsequential
          compared to his larger-than-life women."

Dawn Marie Kresan’s first full-length collection is quietly surprising. Muse is ostensibly about Elizabeth Siddal, Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s wife and, of course, muse. The first half of the book progresses much as one would expect, a deliberate and careful circumnavigation of gender, art and agency:

          “He painted your gaze downcast,
           claimed the right to control
           what your eyes gathered in.”

Kresan spent more than a decade crafting this book and it shows in certain shining moments and images: 

          “Your buttoned-up heart burns
          in this winter white world”

          "The dove
          places a poppy in your hands. Your hair,
          an ecstatic red."

The first half of the book is a competent tracing of a tragic life. Things get really interesting, however, in the third section. Imagining Elizabeth and Sylvia Plath reading obituaries together:

          “Her own last hours, vomiting blood,
           a tube pushed down her thin throat. What art
           out of this?"

Imagine Elizabeth and Marilyn Monroe having a slumber party, comparing drug addictions, Elizabeth and Jane Morris at a museum presented as a short play, Elizabeth and Princess Diana, limericks on tombstones. Kresan takes the time to make more space for Elizabeth in her book than she had in her own writing. And by doing so she makes space for the reader to connect with Elizabeth. Instead of ending the collection by drawing a line between a stillborn child and a stillborn art, Kresan, through Mrs. Beeton’s cooking class, reminds Elizabeth, and us, to “...savour / the pleasure of her creations.”

 —review by Paul Pearson

Monday, November 11, 2013

Review of Muse in The Chronicle Herald

Review of Muse by George Elliott Clarke for The Chronicle Herald 


Musing on muses

"Dawn Marie Kresan’s debut collection of poems, Muse, re-animates the Victorian, redhead siren, Elizabeth Siddal, whose modelling provided the face of the greatest works of Pre-Raphaelite art from the brush, especially of her future husband, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. However, as Kresan’s bio for Siddal stresses, her own “small, artistic output would be forever overshadowed by her role as Pre-Raphaelite model, mistress, and tragic muse.” To correct the repression of Siddal’s creativity, to rescue her from imprisonment in men’s silencing and exploitative portraiture, Kresan imagines Siddal’s responses to the male painters’ uses — and abuses — of her, as well as her responses to the philandering of her lover and, briefly, her spouse, Rossetti [...] Kresan is keen to emphasize female genius. So Siddal (d. 1862) is placed in the company of much later women such as Monroe and the princess, but also writers Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton. In Muse, Kresan addresses Siddal directly: “By what authority do I speak of you — / sordid red metaphor through my colourless hands. / Your dead child and forgotten art used to enrich mine.” An imaginary girl inspires the strongest poem: “She weeps over useless stumps. / What is the point of keeping oneself clean / and sinless if the body will be torn / from itself in either case?” The lines have Margaret Atwood’s visceral concision: “Butchered, the knob-boned shorn-skin twists/ like thick branches blown from a trunk, / bluntly chopped short before the edge of sky.”More, please."

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Cover design for The Mystery Shopping Cart

You can't call a book The Mystery Shopping Cart without putting a shopping cart on the cover. I choice this image because I thought the watery cart with its sense of reflection and curious circumstance was intriguing. For the design I doubled this sense of reflection by making the cart mirror itself in the front and back covers.

The challenge with the text was that the title was so long. I used different sizes and weights to create a balanced look that loosely follows the lines of the trees. I small caped the subtitle and added some style and colour with Anita's name.