Book Review: Kristina Marie Darling's Requited
by Georgia Kreiger
In her characteristic style, Kristina Marie Darling blurs the already tenuous lines we draw between literary genres in her book Requited. Composed of a series of thirteen prose poems appended by an epilogue consisting of fragmented images, the book is defined by Darling as a work of fiction and includes the conventional disclaimer regarding coincidental resemblance to actual people and events. A concluding note reveals that lines are borrowed from two primary texts. These authorial remarks prompt us to search for a narrative progression in a book that is simultaneously poetry, prose, and fiction, and that, like an academic essay, includes synthesized material from primary sources.
Even the distinction between a question and a declaration dissolves as Darling formulates her prose poems, arranged under the heading “The Story,” as sets of five or six statements, several of them including a question punctuated with a period: What does it mean to cross a threshold. Why can so many things be mistaken for metaphor. These declarative questions themselves punctuate lines that include scene, a speaking persona, an implied addressee, and the overarching sense of a relationship threatened by, among other factors, vexed communication. “For days we send messages across a field of withered grass,” the speaker declares to an addressee who is “sorry for ‘needing time’.” Thus a story of sorts unfolds.
Beyond her conscious blending of elements we may designate as genre-specific, Darling offers us rich imagery that enlivens scenes from which the speaker examines the “many things that can go wrong in a conversation.” In “An Epilogue,” she distills words and phrases from the poems that comprise “The Story” in order to magnify singular vibrant images that each cling thinly to the upper margin of an otherwise blank page. With each we are directed to recall moments from “The Story,” such as:
a garden cracked from the cold
And the even starker:
An injured deer, a
These images reprise and, by virtue of their abbreviated form, memorialize scenes from “The Story.”
Author of seventeen books and recipient of numerous awards including fellowships from Yaddo and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, Darling tests our ability to transcend our arbitrary expectations and to find satisfaction in a text that is at once verse and prose, fragment and narrative, fiction and essay, developed scene and isolated image. Her deft dismissal of these theoretical distinctions allows us to fully immerse ourselves in the sensory language and explorative prose that embodies Requited.
Requited, the latest book by Kristina Marie Darling
Kristina Marie Darling doing her thing
About the reviewer, Georgia Kreiger:
Georgia Kreiger lives in Michigan. She teaches creative writing at Concordia University-Ann Arbor, whose Kreft Arts Program hosts a variety of poets and writers. She is a member of A Gathering of Women Writers, a coalition devoted to supporting the work of Ann Arbor area women writers.