In a sequence of five feverish elegies, Sandra Ridley's Silvija combines narrative lyric and experimental verse styles to manifest dark themes related to love and loss: the traumas of psychological suffering (isolation and confinement), physical abuse (by parent and partner), terminal illness (brain tumour and heart attack), revelation, resolution, and healing. Pulsing with the award-winning writer's signature blend of fervour and sangfroid, the serial poems in Silvija accrue into a book-length testament to a grief both personal and human, leaving readers with the redemptive grace that comes from poetry's ability to wrestle chaos into meaning.
Because of its overarching themes and serial form, Silvija is best read cover-to-cover, analogous to a work of fiction, rather than a book of individual or occasional poems. In this way, and in dealing with timeless subjects of human significance, this book-length 'requiem for loss' bears comparisons to Anne Carson's Nox and Daphne Marlatt's The Given, and will resonate for the many people who have dealt with traumas of physical and mental illness, who have survived physical and/or emotional abuse, and who search for beauty after catastrophe.
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