Amanda's Reviews > Quell

Quell by Sandra Ridley
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it was amazing
bookshelves: poetry, chapbooks, favourites-2018

a friend dives into the shallow lake at the speaker of the poem's cottage. the speaker must hold on to the friend in the water while waiting for help. the friend is gravely injured.

this is a long poem about friendship and holding on and near death as a private experience, the bond between the woman who clings to life and the woman keeping her alive.

i read the entire sequence aloud to my husband and we were both moved to tears.

the style is urgent, the language reflects the slowed down feeling of a crisis situation. it is layered with fear, melancholy, love, sorrow.

"There is nothing as sacred as holding a body dying."

I think of the myths of Orpheus and Eurydice, Persephone, the fairy tales of sleeping beauties and children lost in the woods, paintings in the dark green woods, red riding hood. Elements of myth, fairy tale, opera, art are all evoked in this sequence for me. this poem is an operatic work in words, stars, foxtail, thistle-blade, an orchestra of textures, a litany for a ghost.

The design of the book is beautifully rendered by Karen Schindler and the author. There is even a flyleaf with a line from the poem moving across and up the leaf. Blue endpapers and a textured soft cover with a gorgeous painting of Undine on the cover. The design is careful and thoughtful and matches the tone of the work, the speaker's care for the drowning friend.

Quell is the 7th print publication by the author. I have loved every one of her books and chapbooks. Sandra Ridley interrogates and explores narrative uniquely, has a voracious appetite for esoteric nomenclatures that create a tone that is exactly right for the work. She is able to mesmerize with words, fragments, quiet sounds and the judicious placement of a breath. Her writing is revolutionary in its stylistic departure from mainstream Canadian contemporary poetry belongs to the oeuvre of writers and artists who have influenced my own attempts to create, including Helene Cixous, Djuna Barnes, Christine McNair, Oana Avasilichioaei, Nathanael, Angela Carter, Leonora Carrington, Anne Carson, Canisia Lubrin, Klara Du Plessis, Dionne Brand, Virginia Woolf, Shawna Lemay and the list goes on.

The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.
What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.
Breathe-in experience, breathe-out poetry.
--Muriel Rukeyser

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
September 21, 2018 – Finished Reading
September 25, 2018 – Shelved
September 25, 2018 – Shelved as: poetry
September 25, 2018 – Shelved as: chapbooks
December 2, 2018 – Shelved as: favourites-2018

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