Praise for Brushes with:
How does one footnote vanishing? In Brushes with Kristina Marie Darling draws our attention to where love and light – their most delicate details – once were. In their place lie darkly gleaming, refracting essentialized remains. Shattered glass and devastated porcelain hands divine a poetics of the charnel grounds. Darling’s work reminds that after such vanishing, there is something: a gift, the book itself.
—Selah Saterstrom, author of The Meat and Spirit Plan
Some facts: there is “white residue” on a windowsill. In a novel on the brink of being written, someone walks out the door then reappears on the edge of a lake. To “recollect.” To “glide.” To “wake up.” In a work that is reminiscent of Jenny Boully’s The Body — a blankness accompanied by footnotes — Darling’s Brushes with performs a narrative of sexual betrayal and peculiar [excruciating] loss with a delicate and pressing hand. In the appendix that closes the collection, the “interior of a burned house” is transposed with the figure of a sky filled with “dead stars.” Is the heart a burial ground for domestic desires? Darling has written a work of caked trace in which the longing for a shared world is already a part of the counterfeit, damaged and “circling” past. Trace, in other words, does not function in the usual way. It is not light. It is not something you can look through, like holding an ice shard up to the sun. On the contrary, it is “unsightly.” It is a dark weight in a little book that felt, at times, like an act of beautiful revenge.
—Bhanu Kapil, author of Humanimal
If Wolfgang Iser believed that within the gaps of a text lies meaning that the reader must create, then Darling’s collection Brushes With is the film negative composed of those gaps. Therein lies the creative energy and genius of Darling’s work. As we enter the text, we begin to construct a narrative from interstices of information that comes in the form of gemlike footnote poems. These footnotes are deliciously loaded and sensual—whispers from a friend who just can’t tell you the whole story. The footnotes provide the type of glimpse we get into any relationship—spotted, occasional, fragmented, flawed. Darling is a prolific writer (a word rarely applied to a poet so young), a writer who has a multitude of material and approaches to her intelligent vision of what poetry can also be. She surprises us and proves time and again to be the real thing. Darling is a writer to watch.
—Andrea Witzke Slot, author of To find a new beauty
In a manner that is near and dear to me, Kristina Marie Darling beautifully constructs a land of seeming quicksand where every loved thing disappears as quickly as it appears. Houses burn, stars extinguish, love diminishes, a dress can no longer be worn. In this metatextual affair, Kristina invites us to take her keys, her legend to her poetic map to unlock and chart absence alongside her.
—Jenny Boully, author of The Body: An Essay
“Kristina Marie Darling’s work is a reading experience like no other poet I have ever encountered. Every lover of poetic craft will relish the defiant ways she’s transforming and subverting traditional forms of poetry. She remains wildly imaginative, refreshingly unique, and even frighteningly evocative.”-HTML Giant.
“In Darling’s narrative the footnote acts as driver to and anchor of the poems. The footnote also acts as subverter to the poet’s own voice through increasingly exteriorising and encapsulating her emotional pitch in a series of objects: the star-map, the headless statue, the ripped dress, the violet nightdress, the burnt meadow, and the burnt room. The interior objects that belong in the ruined house have gained a steely patina that gleam beneath glass, or are hidden beneath wood.”-Open Salon.
“Kristina Marie Darling strikes again with creating a surreal and memorable journey through her particular style of writing in Brushes With, a collection that captures a romance that is no longer, scenes and footnotes that entice and leave the reader curious and wanting more.”-Poet Hound.
“This is a story where the actual narrative of each section disappears, leaving the reader to fill in the spaces between the footnotes at the bottom of the page. This leads to an ethereal sense of a story that, like the meaning of life itself, can never be grasped in its entirety.”-Crafty Green Poet.
“Darling is a master of empty spaces, both being unafraid to leave most of the physical page of a book empty, giving us only footnotes to decipher, but also for allowing empty space within the text that allows you to enter into it and make of it what you will. It takes guts to do this and great skill to do it right. When reading Brushes With, her guts and skill quickly become evident.”-Word Riot.
“Kristina Marie Darling’s latest collection of writing —her tenth!—takes as its premise the notion that every love story is, to quote David Foster Wallace, a ghost story; what we know and understand about our lovers is inevitably comprised of wispy half-truths and sensations, ones not so much acknowledged as intuited, felt.”-The Rumpus.
“The reader’s job…is to look at those butterflies pinned under glass, and to construct a story even more than the sum of its parts by connecting those objects to the ideas they are suggesting. The brilliance of Darling’s form and structure in Brushes With is the freedom she gives us to do just that.”-Nano Fiction.