Strong Feelings Expressed with Strong Words: ‘Paper Cuts’ by Constance Stadler

Constance Stadler has been nothing if not prolific of late, producing a clutch of chapbooks that have demonstrated her remarkable capacity to weave magical and often potent word-webs. Impressively, quantity has not been at the expense of quality. If anything, her words grow stronger with each publication as she continues to perfect her craft.

So when she says that ‘Paper Cuts’ is her strongest work to date, she’s absolutely right. This isn’t mere hyperbole, but emblematic of her acute awareness, not just of herself, but of the world around her. It’s this awareness that fills her poetry and imbues it with a rare humanity.

What’s most apparent with Stadler’s latest offering is that it sees her truly pushing herself as a writer. This self-challenging manifests not only in terms of the expression of deep, heart-felt emotions, but in terms of her range of expression and voice(s). Not that she is ever less than magnificently eloquent: the fierce intellect that is Stadler’s trademark informs every word in this collection. Indeed, it is this intellect and the aforementioned awareness that enables her to glide seamlessly between densely-weighted epics such as ‘Bed and Breakfast,’ an intricately detailed piece that is more like a painting executed with the smallest, most painstaking of brushstrokes, to brief snapshots, the likes of ‘Fallows.’

However, as ever with Constance’s writing, she’s at her best when she’s channelling the purest of emotions, and there’s much love and much anger here, in almost equal measure. As titles such as ‘A Love Dismembered’ indicate, there’s a forceful passion behind both, and through this she reminds us just how close opposite feelings really are to one another, and how readily joy can become pain, love turn to hate, tenderness to violence. Moreover, she expresses with a rare clarity how these conflicting emotional states not only co-exist, but can be experienced simultaneously. It is this that places this collection of poetry in the realm of not just true art, bur great art. The reader cannot take these poems a mere observer: no, to read Stadler’s words is to feel. This isn’t simply art: this is life.

‘Paper Cuts’ is out now as a free e-book on Calliope Nerve Media.

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