Monday, January 18, 2010

Gail Dendy, People Crossing

I had the pleasure of meeting Gail Dendy during my trip to South Africa last year. Right at the tail end of the trip, quite literally (and lamentedly, as she was a delight and the conversation over lunch a real pleasure): when we finished eating she put me on a shuttle for the airport.

People Crossing is Dendy's second collection, and is probably a stronger than the usual sophomore effort. There is a great deal of sensuousness (in the scandalous sense of that word) about many of these poems; and while not all of it works, much of it does.

In "Spider-watch" (in which Dendy evokes the rather over-worked image of the black widow spider) we read the incredibly evocative:
She's endless,
tonight, all give


The stitching is complete.
One of them is satisfied.
And in "Fragment" (in its entirety):
It has to be passionate,
I know his clung kiss, sharp
as a bloodburst.
While the most titillating might very well be the closing lines of "Exposed":
To them
I was all
night lover –
a spool
of yearning.
Unravel me
Oh my!!

But Dendy is far from "merely" a sensuous poet. The denouement of "Assault" is... well, frightfully powerful: you know what's coming, the turn is not particularly artful (nor is it artless), but it's still sickening and lands like a punch.

She is a relatively prolific poet but there is little of her poetry accessible and available here in the United States. I foolishly left South Africa with this volume only. There are a few short biographical pieces (here and here) as well as some brief interviews (here and here). For those with a taste for... well... poetry, I've managed to find the following poems of Dendy's online:
I do look forward to continuing our discussion and, hopefully, getting my hands on another volume or two of her work before the next trip back to the RSA.

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