How to Decode your Orange-Peel Fortunes by Alice Wickenden
The way the blossom comes all at once / like tears, / every year a flood of blush grief.
Alice Wickenden has an MPhil in Renaissance Literature and undertook a PhD collaboratively between the British Library and Queen Mary University of London. Their work has been published by Variant Lit and Broken Sleep, and this little gem of a pamphlet is, in their own words, “about those moments when the right song comes on at the right time, when nothing else makes sense but your favourite poem, how that can be enough.”
I tell you what, this is a tiny, perfect piece of clever, brilliant poetical observation. Not a single word is wasted, everything sits in almost unreal balance, and the white space in between is positively stuffed full of possibility.
Lessons from the Text
Eighteen days into Sealey, and I’d thought by now I’d be flagging. The sweetness of Alice’s work, the undoubted sharpness and complexity of the wordplay, the intelligence that makes so few phrases cover so much ground, is something you’ll need to read for yourself to believe. Writing short poems is an utter art form, as I am beginning to learn, and is very hard work. These poems take economical and present it with both punch and flavour.
From the twelve lines of renting aubade that opens a day with mundanity and warmth, to Ephemera which presents a compact yet three-dimensional moment of connection and its subsequent absence… is it loss, or is it simply yearning for return? When there are so few words, you crave more, and a deeper understanding of the text being read. That’s the problem with economy, after all, and done this smartly, you are absolutely left wanting.
Yet again, Nine Pens have done the business here, and the choice of curated titles shows a real understanding of how poetry works in many forms. Honestly, this is a beautiful, vitamin packed read, and I will be searching out more of Alice’s work as a result of reading this. I think she has a lot to teach me 😀
Will you read it again? Yup. I will go seek out Alice’s other work too.
Would you recommend it for me to read? It’s cheap, orange and beautiful. What’s not to like?