Impress by Candi V. Auchterlonie

candiImpress by C.V Auchterlonie. Published Punk Hostage Press 2012


I see us
as if we’re not us at all
as if we’ve let our body suits already
slipped off and skinny dipped under some glass blown
one in /one out
we walk the same /we drown the same.’
 nest is © Candi V. Auchterlonie from Impress (Amazon)

Impress is Candi V. Auchterlonie’s second poetry collection, published by Punk Hostage Press 2012.

Candi V. Auchterlonie  is a woman of the landscape. She is a poet of the open vista and of the outdoors. One feels that the house and the hearth are an alien skin that somehow do not fit her. The house functions as doors and windows that lead to water and wide open spaces. There is an obsidian thread running as a deep cleft through and under her expression. She mines this vein revealing a controlled sure craftsmanship in her approach to poetic form.

Auchterlonie’s writing approach to her poetry is singular. Whilst she takes on themes of motherhood, alienation, beauty and violence, the aforementioned obsidian vein reveals a  linguistic nomadism inherent in her expression and it runs through the whole of Impress.  Sometimes the words she seeks to communicate the depth of her experience are lost to her pen. This does not give her pause, nor does it reveal a desperate clutch for the right image or symbol. In fact, Auchterlonie shows herself prepared to wait for her poetic imagery to develop.

Auchterlonie handles poetic series and inter-related themes with extreme care and she will extend them without losing control of the symbols she has assembled to voice her poetry. There are series of poems with interlinked themes throughout Impressterrarium, chambers, walnut, woman without a landscape, and ghost hands the ultimate poem of the collection are in series.

The pivotal part of Impress occurs in the series woman without a landscape:

woman without a landscape

it still startles her
the way old pain does.
she remembers it well, every hurt that tamed her
it hits her like a thousand paper cuts
to her fragile vellum skin.’
woman without a landscape is © Candi V. Auchterlonie

The tropes and symbols Auchterlonie has assembled for herself are dominated by water, rock, ocean, blue,and metallurgy. The home represented by the house sometimes feels imprisoning or unsafe in the poems of Impress :

terrarium 1.

should you remember
in retrospect
the gossamer, or
the ghostly silence
of her
the glass house in the hills
tiny crystal knobs over brass
secret kept,
unbroken stave, marble smooth
terrarium 1. is © Candi V. Auchterlonie

House is not a place of safety from storm and almost exists alone to provide metaphor or symbol. Houses have cellars and doorways that are like a magic kingdom into well-guarded memory


middle of the night storm
so very turbulent
that this house of mine
began to caw and creak like a flock/
like antique brass hinges flittering off like fairies.
the old house rattled right
down to its foundation.
I could hear its old belly aching
discomfort and some superficial seething pain.
3 am.
only to be woken
by the violent husbandry
of the shaking of my walls/my bed.
I began conversations
with the trees outside.
from rock-a-bye by Candi V. Auchterlonie
 Objects and Auchterlonie’s perception of them are made new when she observes her child in his world. In her poems about motherhood there is a tsunami of tenderness and of self- recognition, and of her own engagement with the small and miraculous world of her son.
 The experience of birthing reflects the sex that created the small boy  _whose silence /goldfish gasp _  are the poet’s own. The child in Impress is the keystone of the arch that supports her epic structure. He is  a window to the world and his visual language and gesture is a learning curve for the poet.

once upon a time ago

his tiny peach hands
distorted blur under lemon white
the glow of animate life
his, the digits of newness still
over worthless relics broken
ever storyless, he carefully cleans and collects them
from around the yard, ‘
from once upon a time ago by Candi V. Auchterlonie

Often there is a sense of total alienation from the domestic world, and that nomadism or will to unfold the world is of the utmost importance. Domestic ties and a tying to objects is secondary to unravelling a feeling of her place in the world.
 The importance of place and one’s relation to it through the observation and study of talismanic objects, natural objects which speak of mystery are always subject to the poet’s minute investigation, as if the huge is presently too much to handle. She holds in her own hands small symbols of the enormity of place, these are shards of wonder and not remnants or leavings from. There is a questing curiousity about Auchterlonie which bodes well for her future work , as it is allied with a subtle craftsmanship in her approach to form.
 Alienation from is a still evolving in Auchterlonie’s forms and tropes. Stone (or crystals) / the walnut/ water, and sub-total immersion provide useful tools for a sense of powerlessness or littleness in the utter vastness of nature.

That  thread of obsidian running through the book which belies the poet’s statement of beauty as encompassing all and everything. There is a determined desire to find her place in a world which is hers – an almost childlike beligerence and desirousness to make sense of it all. This may be a linguistic disconnectedness, a nomadic inherence , or an endless wanting that is eternally restless. Restive even.

feast of figs

ravens are rare here
I find when I fumble stumble across one
should I be so lucky
I fall onto my knees searching for
the stars, Corvus!
I think of the greeks and Babylonians
the hydras tail, the raven and adad
the story of apollo’s raven
and the feast of figs, the punishment
of being stuck in the sky, thirsty for all time.
the cost was high, I recoil.
I immediately search for headstones
marble carved eyes
that’s where the stars live these days
onyx forms
perched and crooning over
named and muted pale stones
under storms of rusty steel wool.’
feast of figs is © Candi V. Auchterlonie


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