Maria Nutick, Wicked Fairy Apologist (Spiderwise Press, 2005)
So, the other day, on the way to work, I found a promising padded yellow envelope waiting for me on the mail table as I walked out the door. I grabbed it up on my way out, and opened it as soon as I got a moment to at work. Inside, of course, was Mia’s chapbook, Wicked Fairy Apologist. I’ve been stealing moments with it ever since.
I enjoyed this debut without question: it’s well evident that Mia is a talented poet and has been practicing her craft for years. I like to call this a debut because it lacks a main theme beyond that of Mia, herself and her mind. It’s a sampling of poems I dare say she’s written over many years and has finally found the courage to put them where they need to be: into the hands of others.
Poetry is a highly subjective thing, so I won’t try to sell you on this collection. No, I’ll just speak of the things that spoke to me and moved me and maybe you’ll find something worthy in my thoughts to send you wandering off to take a look at this more than worthy chapbook. (If you do go, tell Mia I said hi, by the way.)
This collection opens up with a “Synaesthetic Love Song,” a poem featuring a combination of senses and phrases that just left me tingling. It inspires in me a city scene, dark nights, and the confusing flash of neon and stars, sandalwood incense trailing down a dark apartment corridor, limbs tangling in the sheets where a lover has lately lingered and is now altogether too long gone. A sense of drunkenness and desire, a delirium that lets the non-synaesthete have a brief glimpse of the synaesthetic world.
“Lightning People”, a poem written for Raven, conjures up many Southern memories for me: memories of home. She captures the lightning flash, the darkpurple thunderheads, the fireflies and mason jars and leaves me spinning in an emotional web of nostalgia and empathy, longing and understanding.
“Compass Love” is just a beautiful prayer of passion, while “In the Night Desert” echoes in my sun-bleached bones. How can I, who writes so often of my own soul-journeys, not respond to this one, a fireside connection and conversation with trickster which leaves one with such a cynical yet empathetic view of one’s place in the world?
“El Dia de los Muertos” paints in perfect metaphor the ever-changing topography of one’s inner life and relationships, all relevant to sugared candy skulls and rattling bones. “Vocabulary Lesson” evokes the limitations of language in a beautiful way, a song of longing for a language that does not exist and so explaining how and why the beloved cannot be depicted in such a limited language as ours. “Wormwood” is a haunting meditation on the attractive power of destruction oozing like absinthe through the veins of some people we can’t help but fall in love with.
And, of course, we have the scattering of poems that help give this collection its name: “Inheritance,” “Sentence First, Verdict Afterwards,” and “Beholden”… all either intimating the intentions behind certain fairies’ wicked deeds or painting quite a different picture of the motive behind fairy tale actions. “Inheritance” readdresses the wrongs done the Wicked Witch of the West, while “Sentence First, Verdict Afterwards” gives a new depth to the blood-red of the Queen of Heart’s heart. “Beholden” gives us more insight to how it feels to be rescued and what the rescuer may expect in return.
In closing, I’d like to say that I love the way in which Mia has chosen to present her first (of hopefully a long line of) offering: each book is decorated by hand, crafted into a heartfelt piece of art. I am particularly enamored of the silver ink she chose for the decorations (stamped pictures which grace nearly every page). It was truly inspired to have the title winking out at me, matte one way and brilliant with a tilt, with silver leaf crawling all over the edges of the cover and limning each page. And, while the glitter may be a poor choice for posterity, it’s definitely a welcome component in the present: these past few days, during my working hours, I’ve found a bit of glitter stuck to my skin, reminding me of the beautiful book and poetry I’ve been stealing time with. I’ve never known glitter to have such a heart-lifting effect on me before.
Wicked Fairy Apologist: you should look into it. After all, I’ve barely addressed one half of all the different gems this book has to offer, barely addressed how some poems echo in abandoned sensuality while others sting with the force of her caustic wit. And, for now, that’s all I have to say about that.
P.S. “The Raccoon as Harbinger of Death” wins a prize for being twistedly funny, yet appropriately cynical and entirely apt.
This review was originally published on my blog on July 31st, 2005, and later migrated to my website.