- Reviewer: Dr. Laura E. Goodin
There is much to savor in Kyla Lee Ward’s The Macabre Modern and Other Morbitidies. A rich, complex collection of poetry, prose, and nonfiction, the works in this volume are wicked, witty, poignant, whimsical, hilarious, keenly intelligent, and deeply disquieting by turns, and often in combination. They have in common an examination of the many ironies associated with death (or Death personified, who appears, particularly in the poems that constitute the book’s first half, as an arch and slightly jaded observer of humans’ efforts to deny or defy their inevitable fate). The poems employ a variety of forms from strict rhyme and meter schemes (including, charmingly, the sonnet) to free verse, and – while they reward a competent reader who has a large vocabulary and a taste for subtext – they are written with a refreshing clarity and virtuosic use of poetics and diction that makes reading them essentially effortless. The one prose-fiction piece in the collection is no less artistic in its images and poetics than the poems themselves.
Ward intriguingly includes a foreword by noted medievalist and writer Dr. Gillian Polack and a comprehensive and well-written article by Ward herself that together provide a fascinating historical and literary context for the poems (and prose fable).
I highly recommend this book as a salutary injection of eternal perspective into a world far too preoccupied with the impulses, whims, and outrages of the moment. However, despite its slender spine, it is not a book to hurry through. Instead, I urge you to allow some time to linger with each poem and relish, with perhaps an ironic smile, the thought of your own mortality.
Kyla Lee Ward is a performance artist, author, and poet
She lives and works in Sydney, Australia
Concerns of justice set aside,
for misadventure, homicide,
and natural cause are all occult
when one considers the result!
And you who sought to fix the truth
shall hear it now: both age and youth
must join the dance, both rich and poor.
A truly universal law!
I’d argue definition here:
when death arrives is seldom clear!
Is this a vegetative state?
I must see the certificate!
Until the probate is released
no one is legally deceased.
You surely must retain your clerk:
at least think of the paperwork!