Praise for Night Songs:
Night Songs builds within its pages an atmosphere Proustian—no, not sentences running the course of many pages; no, not any simply measured loquaciousness. Rather, we find here a poetry concerned with music, subsuming into itself music’s own mysterious structure: sentence as re-appearing theme, a music-like stitch that counters the discursive pleasures of the prose poems by calling the reader’s mind back to what must be, or might be, remembered. Here, too, the night thickens with nostalgia, a form of memory that calls into question itself, revises itself, erases itself, categorizes itself—a music, I’d say, that wants to listen to itself to know its own song, to prove its melody to itself with only itself for evidence. It is a lovingly faulty task undertaken in poems just as lovingly full, lovingly faultless, trusting to the book’s whole composition what no single poem can claim alone—the music entire.
—Dan Beachy-Quick, Author of This Nest, Swift Passerine
The mostly prose poems of Night Songs provide us with a poetry of subtle gestures that plays with the borders of reader/listener and creator/producer, that tangles with questions of order/mechanization versus life/subject. Through her use of music as a theme, Darling takes us on an exploration of poetics in brief but well-crafted pieces.
—William Allegrezza, Author of Fragile Replacements
Night Songs is a strange and marvelous collection. In a series of off-kilter narratives, Kristina Marie Darling describes the shifting interior lives of musicians, deconstructs a Victorian guide to music appreciation, then, word by word, erases her own poems. Here, the evening opens “like a black umbrella” while the audience murmurs. Later, a cellist practices as snow falls around him “like tinfoil under a phosphorescent moon.” Musicians compete, fail, strive or fall in love—until the dim stage collapses “in a heap of shattered harpsichords.” Lyrically subtle and technically inventive, these poems play with narrative and prose forms in ways I haven’t encountered before. And they’re deeply engaging.
—Kevin Prufer, Author of In a Beautiful Country
Praise for Compendium:
Kristina Marie Darling’s Compendium is an omen, an invitation to peek inside an antique locket and be overtaken by the simultaneously strange and gorgeous language that inhabits the stillness of white space and the darkest corners of imaginary rooms. The poems themselves are a graceful ‘array of miniatures,’ a means to explore the tension between music and silence, and Darling is a master composer.
—Susan Slaviero, Author of Cyborgia
Darling’s Compendium is the remnant of a ghost story, a book which unravels the tattered ends of our literature and collages them into its own sort of opus. Filled with the buoys of the lives of others that materialize and vanish beneath the sea of white—“the piano’s most delicate song,” “a dusty wooden stage,” “every violent burned to the ground,” they are quiet, dangerous poems, poems where restriction itself becomes the obsession. So, prepare yourself for obsession— this is the kind of book that merits it.
—Kyle McCord, Author of Galley of the Beloved in Torment
“It was only then I wished to preserve my collection, its infinite variety. In each of the charms, a constellation. In every necklace a cluster of nervous stars.” Kristina Marie Darling’s Compendium is a collection of just this sort—lyrical prose poems, erasures, glossaries, histories, and footnotes as “nervous stars” that illustrate a singular recursive obsession and its tangential orbits. Part catalog, part jewelry box, Darling’s work is informed and self-aware with a lilting loveliness. Compendium challenges us to ask whether we are whole enough to “appreciate the infinite variety of the lockets” on display here in this talented writer’s work.
—Brandi Homan, Author of Bobcat Country
How often does one open a book of poems, commence reading, and then wish that the book had no poems in it at all? Compendium solves this problem by providing footnotes for texts that are invisible, mislaid, erased, or for some other reason not included in the volume. Thank you, Kristina Darling, for protecting the reader’s interest—and advancing the art.
—Aaron Belz, Author of Lovely, Raspberry
Praise for The Body is a Little Gilded Cage:
In the fine mesh of these poems Kristina Maria Darling recovers from H.D.’s correspondence a dream city suffused with Eros and a chilly nostalgia. Here delicate, archetypical image making is counter-pointed by the wry convolutions of her footnotes and appendices. Definitions dilate into images, memory, hieroglyphs moving us deeper into the vascular corridors of a mystical sub consciousness. Eat this lotus and do not worry about going home.
—Joe Hall, author of Pigafetta is My Wife
Virtually no found form goes unfound in Kristina Marie Darling’s The Body is a Little Gilded Cage. Footnotes and appendices, letters and lists, definitions and glossaries compound architecturally into a devastatingly well-dressed, fin-de-siècle whole. Bedecked in feathers, bones, buttons and flowers, Darling’s fragments coruscate and clink together, catching the light, catching your eye like the most decadent chandelier, illuminating your way through “the arcades of a cathedral” and showing you “maps of the hidden rooms” where you might find the ghost of Hilda Doolittle under “a cold, white moon.”
—Kathleen Rooney, author of Oneiromance (an epithalamion)
Might I make a suggestion to the reader finding his or her way to Kristina Marie Darling’s The Body Is a Gilded Cage? Imagine the subjective experience of a chandelier. And not just because of the chandelier’s resemblance to a cage, and not just because a chandelier is, at its heart, a collection of fragments, but because of the very intricately beveled edge multiplying throughout. Imagine the chandelier observing reality, and you will understand how to read Darling’s book of poems.
—Kent Shaw, author of Calenture
Told in footnotes, glossaries, and mysterious, incomplete letters, The Body is A Little Gilded Cage transcends and expands traditional narrative with delightful results. Both sensual and sinister, it’s a story concealed in the deep folds of velvet curtains, revealed a little bit more with each spin of dancers, each turn of the antique phonograph.
—Kristy Bowen, author The Fever Almanac
Praise for Melancholia (An Essay):
The experience of reading this essay is like being an explorer and discovering a love story-in-poems in a land where poems are memories. Darling’s meditations arrive as letters, definitions, lists, missing text with footnotes, and glossaries. Melancholia touched and moved me with its delicacy, and thrilled me with its subversions. A lovely, tender book.
—Molly Gaudry, author of We Take Me Apart
Fragmentary and talismanic, the poems in Kristina Marie Darling’s Melancholia (An Essay) chart the arc of abjection after the loss of a beloved as the author slyly deconstructs the stuff of nineteenth century courtship rituals. Darling’s collection is filled with fractured love tokens—a shattered glass jewelry box, a necklace’s broken lobster clasp, a brass locket with an empty frame—as well as fragmented forms: self-conscious footnotes, definitions, and glossaries of terms. These elliptical poems, obsessive and oblique, gleam from the dark world of Darling’s noctuary—that “record of what passes in the night.”
—Anna Journey, author of If Birds Gather Your Hair for Nesting
Trembling with shine, Melancholia is a new jewel in the continuing assemblage of sparse and bright words from Kristina Marie Darling. This book sparkles with lonesome fragments and open space, with the quiet bruises of falling apart.
—J. A. Tyler, author of In Love With a Ghost
Melancholia (an Essay) is a beautiful composition in which Ms. Darling takes us on a journey into the topography of her heroine’s melancholia. She juxtaposes text with footnotes, interlaces quiet, melodious language with momentous silence and, in the process, transforms the way we appreciate poetry.
—Brigitte Byrd, author of Fence Above the Sea
Think Maurice Blanchot asleep and dreaming of dictionary after dictionary washing ashore, half-drowned and thick, wordish, sputtering water, and thankful for air. Darling makes what is at the heart of our matter, mutter, muster go stunningly missing.
—Sabrina Orah Mark, author of The Babies
Kristina Marie Darling’s mesmerizing Melancholia: An Essay is a velvet-lined jewelry box and an echo chamber, where voice mutes into white-space absence, footnotes point to elided referents, and glossaries leak incomplete history. “Melancholia,” she reminds us, means “to play a familiar piece of music.” Darling deftly quiets those tropes—those vestiges of the tropes of desire— that have historically silenced the beloved, the object; she fiercely harbors the voice of the beloved while the manor burns down. She whispers to us from the smoldering ruins, under the aegis of “drowsy numbness,” of nightingales singing to sleepwalkers.
—Richard Greenfield, author of A Carnage in the Lovetrees
Praise for The Moon & Other Inventions:
In The Moon and Other Inventions, Kristina Marie Darling has constructed a one-sixteenth scale palace of enchanted footnotes. She writes, “Behind a little door the mechanism was turning and turning.” So too do the parts of this book turn and turn: readers will find themselves inside of a dream that is also a three- (or four- or five-) dimensional space. Emily Dickinson opens a door to find Alice Liddell, who opens a door to find Lorine Niedecker. Who could resist such knobs and dials and keys?
—Angela Sorby, author of Bird Skin Coat
Darling creates a lattice of explicitly feminine apperception around the works of Joseph Cornell. The result is a haunting parascription, of a piece with Cornell’s metaphysical idiom while substantially Othering any sustained encounter with his work.
—G.C. Waldrep, author of Goldbeater’s Skin
The fine poems of Kristina Marie Darling embrace the complexities of telemetry: how to read the stars and the heart, peregrinations, P and R waves, a universe implied. Underneath the text, underneath narrative, Darling calculates what matters, and the matter of a woman endeavoring to build a perfect, delicate machine. Would that be a poem? A telescope? A metaphor? All of the above.
—Alan Michael Parker, author of Long Division
In this age of hyperlinkages, the footnote has acquired a nostalgic sheen, similar to that of the optical instruments and gears that populate The Moon and Other Inventions. Joining a group of contemporary works that investigate the lyric and narrative potentials of the footnote, this sequence adds the thrill of ekphrasis to a suggestive paratextual zone.
—Jena Osman, author of The Network
The Moon & Other Inventions takes us back in time and into a parallel universe whose stars are footnotes, though they don’t seek to validate so much as subvert our common authorities. Kristina Marie Darling knows that time is close to the divine, and likely beyond divinity’s reach: [t]he clock within this cathedral recorded the movements of minor stars. But from its interior a series of unfamiliar notes emerged, that ominous ringing. She knows that science gets curious, too: [o]ne of the lesser known experiments, in which scientists were fascinated with the involuntary movements of the female heart. She knows that the mechanical doesn’t separate us from the natural as did the emperor’s nightingale–the phonograph, with its projection of unusual bird calls, was regarded as an evil device–but brings us closer–“I had wanted to preserve the measurements, their pristine order. Each of the charts was a tiny mirror held to the sun’s oblique orbit.” In this impressionistic steampunk elegy to Caroline Herschel and all the Alice girls, we might oscillate unchecked between the story-rich points of heaven’s dome.
—Danielle Pafunda, author of My Zorba
Praise for Petrarchan:
Here we have camera obscura’s promise of fresh sight, but on new terms. Rather than a singular inversion by way of a pinhole into darkness, Kristina Marie Darling has made a sustained, sequential engagement with shards hooked in the bright margin of possibility as it appears to an utterly opened gaze. The first six sections have an effect not unlike the tender clarity of Cornell’s dream notes, and, like them, evidence a mind opened to the extreme, apophatic, earthly, intelligent, harmed, and longing. It’s a beautiful book.
—Kathleen Peirce, author of The Ardors
Truly felt and expressed, how could a human emotion fail to break the form of a poem? In the fourteenth century, the humanist Francesco Petrarca discovered that the prohibition against mixing formal virtuosity with overpowering sentiment made this combination all the more poignant, and even explosive. He called his collection of poems Rime sparse, “scattered rhymes,” because although the poems were perfect wholes, they depicted people in pieces, brokenhearted.
Petrarch’s recent followers have mainly been songwriters, such as Cole Porter and Smokey Robinson. Darling, a poet, returns to the source, and decides to have her own renaissance. Petrarchan reduces Petrarch’s collected works to their barest supports. A series of footnotes — definitions, explanations, and interpretations — invents new contexts for texts that are present in title only. The two appendices create new poems using a few isolated words and phrases from translations of the Rime. These poems have an intense, aggressive relationship to their sources, activating both the beauty and the pathos of fragmentation.
—Aaron Kunin, author of Folding Ruler Star
Kristina Marie Darling’s Petrarchan is a love story etched around the borders of some disappeared or otherwise concealed text. Or it’s the lyrical counterpart to that which is impossible to capture in words without lapsing into the hyperbolic. These footnotes-as-poems blur into light, counterpointed by the empty space on the pages above, an endless circularity of corridors and rooms, ghostly and multiplying, within the “house by the sea.” These vivid points of recess and flaring luminosities spark the imagination to fire. And the erasures that act as echoes at the end of this sequence, comprised of text taken from Petrarch’s Sonnets, resonate through history with a remarkable immediacy. Petrarchan is masterfully orchestrated and brilliantly composed, and it achieves a gestalt that is the more remarkable for the fact of this book being largely a sequence of fragments and miniature deconstructions.
—David Dodd Lee, author of The Nervous Filaments
Redacted and elliptical, Petrarchan reimagines the grotesque Wuthering Heights haunted house as a rhizomic Regency Romance estate and the result is not unlike the genre of film that Pauline Kael once called the end of Western Civilization as a cocktail party. The book, which may be one poem or many, collects many of the exciting interdisciplinary strands of contemporary poetry: New Narrative, the all-footnote poetry of Jenny Boully, glam decadence, cinephilia and architectural influences, the archival work of writers like Robin Schiff, and the idea that all writing is always already translation. Film editor Walter Murch once described the films he loved as being filled with offscreen space and Petrarchan is such a film: footnotes to an invisible text, rather like Archimedes calculating a structure’s height by measuring its shadow.
—Ken Chen, author of Juvenilia
Kristina Marie Darling’s Petrarchan uses ideas of the fragment, the unsaid, and the unknown to gesture towards her own passionate syntax. It seeks the person in Petrarch’s humanism.
—Sean Singer, author of Discography
Praise for Palimpsest:
Palimpsest continues Kristina Marie Darling’s singularly graceful and stunningly incisive exploration of poetic insight, vision, and transformation. Through narrative, erasure, rapturous scholasticism, and sneakily luminous annotations, Darling delves into the crackling spaces between presence and transcendence, between sublimation and the sublime, so that each page seems “laced with electric wires.” Pared and effulgent, Palimpsest’s lucid inscriptions turn artifice into architecture, formal invention into “an act of both grief and homage, reverence and destruction.” Here is a book that reads like what you remember from a book you have forgotten—no, you have not forgotten it. It has already become part of everything you see.
—Zach Savich, author of The Firestorm
A transfixed window. “Presence” within endless glass. Every page of Palimpsest is laced with collapse. The film within this prose is not merely a “voice of the past” but an unpublished portion of nightingale. Kristina Marie Darling positions her camera between scenes to pass beyond the limits of apparition.
—Eric Baus, author of Scared Text
Kristina Marie Darling’s Palimpsest is, as the title suggests, a complex and multi-layered book—and strikingly so. On the surface, the interrelated, historical poems shimmer with Modernist and Postmodernist experiment; below the surface flows a dark, inescapable current of loss and longing for transcendence. This unique work is challenging, moving, and haunting.
—Wayne Miller, author of The City, Our City
Deftly employing the symbols of a turn-of-the-last-century romanticism—swans, daguerrotypes, ghosts, jeweled buttons—that prompt us to consider the narrative implications of cultural artifact, Kristina Marie Darling constructs, in Palimpsest, a story notable for what it will not tell: clues, fragments, artifacts, and erasures build a compelling force field around an alluringly absent center.
–Donna Stonecipher, author of The Reservoir
Kristina Marie Darling’s Palimpsest is a haunting testament to the known, the unknown, and the about-to-be-known. Through fragments and footnotes, and moments of profound mystery, Darling guides the reader through an archive of cufflinks, glass buttons, dangerous mercury, and dead lilies, all bound by lyric—and literal—electricity. This collection diminishes the boundary between past and present, photograph and living subject, windows and the figures that may crouch beyond them.
—Mary Biddinger, author of Prairie Fever and Saint Monica
Palimpsest erases but narrative thrives, cinching in its thawed vintage serifs text still damp with referenced yonder. And lacy. So lacy this off-Baedeker of Victoriana, this text-tease, this curious romantic limbo embellished with doors and doors ajar on a story—no, a source—a source so Giacometti-thin it must be entered from all exits. Antsy and adrift, Darling’s fifth collection, “not a physical body, but rather, the loved one’s more ethereal qualities,” is grainy with ghosts the size of teacups, or teacups the size of ghosts. And the way a whole story can fit into, say, a teacup poured with candy hearts. I am drinking from that teacup right now.
—Kim Gek Lin Short, author of The Bugging Watch and Other Exhibits
Praise for X Marks the Dress: A Registry:
X Marks the Dress: A Registry by Kristina Marie Darling & Carol Guess presents the scintillating variables of time and its complex philosophical relationship with experiential space. These poems spark an incandescent fire of imagination in an enormous tonal range. Positioned on both sides of the mirror at once, watching reflections of ever-changing backgrounds of relationships and marriage. Like dreaming about having a dream this book cajole, beckon and posit in transcendent, expressive, and provocative words. Ultimately, the words never fill the void. Instead, they take us deeper and deeper down to a dark and disorienting place that continually excites the reader with its possibilities. This is an excellent work from two wonderful poets.
—Geoffrey Gatza, author of House of Forgetting & Secrets of My Prison House
In X Marks the Dress, Guess & Darling weave a narrative of love and identity that unpacks itself again and again. Like beautifully wrought Matryoshka dolls, these poems explore the depth and wonder of language as well as its inability to truly define any one thing. Lines and images reappear in new and surprising ways—footnotes, appendices, definitions—that stunningly illustrate exactly how slippery love can be.
—Erin Elizabeth Smith, author of The Naming of Strays
In Kristina Marie Darling and Carol Guess’s collaborative book, X Marks the Dress: A Registry, the reader receives a delicious catalog of wants. The cohabitation of idealized domestic bliss and the wild and unwilling spirit of individuality split the difference. The newlyweds divide the baby in half. The unspoken gets footnoted. The remnants get erased and placed in the appendices. In glorious sequences of riffs, flirtations, recombinations, and dances, Darling and Guess’s collaboration intoxicates. Though the wedding china may get smashed against the trees, and though the stiletto heels may get broken, the moments in these lyrical vignettes will be long enshrined “on a red satin pillow.”
—Oliver de la Paz, author of Requiem for the Orchard
These poems are arch, eyeing the cake. They undo us as we enter their rooms, our lace caught on the door knob, our mouths dripping generations of nameless desire. Each poem is a strand that keeps us tied to the marriage ritual, yet the reader is left diced up and served, simmered in pink, skeptical of the heart yet wanting to eat another’s. “I love you more because I love you both” is the song we dance to, the cadence that questions what a bond is, and between whom, and whether it is possible to love at all (when love is a mirror in a room of mirrors).
—Emily Kendal Frey, author of The Grief Performance
Praise for Correspondence:
In Kristina Marie Darling’s Correspondence, the page is the white box in which keepsakes disappear; the book, the white hallway that extends—endless—between lover and beloved. It is to this very distance that Darling attributes the letter; language appears in the gap it can’t close. For the correspondents, the line is always under erasure, its music muted: a white ribbon falling from an envelope torn open. At the moment of leave-taking, a woman finds herself holding weightless flowers. This book empties its objects, but the result is not emptiness. Rather, something arises in the space Darling curates: the form of our longing, the shape we glimpse suddenly between things that don’t touch.
—Joanna Ruocco, Author of A Compendium of Domestic Incidents
Correspondence, by Kristina Marie Darling, is full the white spaces and erasures of the past. The generous amount of white space around, above and below each poem becomes more than emptiness – it is forgotten or blanked out potential, it is a torrent of words and adventures barely suppressed. Her poems, as if lodged in the grooves of an elderly Victrola, spin again and again to the same phrases and the same images, sometimes partial, sometimes partially crossed out. Darling plays with our ideas about the past, how we make it pretty, precious and romantic, and fragments those ideas until they become sharp and somewhat dangerous. Her poems are footnotes to an imaginary novel. They are tiny museums, up-ended and turned inside out.
—Christine Hamm, author of Echo Park and Saints & Cannibals
Kristina Marie Darling’s Correspondence toys with our narrative hunger, offering footnote, fragment, and caption in place of dramatic episode. Our heroine is eager to stave off union with her beloved, and instead stokes her ardor through indulgence in memento and spectacle. What emerges is the sense that our readerly desires map onto the heroine’s romantic ones—sometimes aligning, sometimes diverging, but always in tension. “What corresponds to what?” we ask ourselves, and the threads we pull as readers weave themselves into the text this way, too. What’s brilliant about Correspondence is the way its spareness suggests something like ornate white space—we see a blank page, but we feel a textured world: velvet, wax, glass, wood, the slant of the light, and a tangled longing.
—Becca Klaver, author of L.A. Liminal
Kristina Marie Darling’s Correspondence lingers in the broken circuit between speech and silence, evoking “almost inaudible” correspondences that simmer “beneath a residue of dust and string.” Darling urges the blank space of the page into language as she tells a love story from love’s remnants. A brilliant weave of subplots emerges, a chorus of vital fragments and crystalline talk. This is a book of hauntings—a lost film still, a mysterious glass compartment, misplaced cufflinks, a buried necklace, an unworn wedding dress, “the light catching / a fire in every eyelash.”
—Tony Trigilio, author of Historic Diary
Kristina Marie Darling’s Correspondence is a miniaturist’s miniature, a seeming erasure leaving behind only subplots and footnotes and glossaries, secondary definitions nested beneath more primary meanings, salutations but not letters: Because perhaps where there is loss it is what remains after the story is told that is most beautiful, or else what proceeds it; not how we were together, but how we say hello, how we say goodbye.
—Matt Bell, author of How They Were Found