POETRY REVIEW – Ladies and Other Vicious Creatures
Ladies and Other Vicious Creatures
by Donna Lynch
$10.00; 51 pgs; May, 2010
Raw Dog Screaming Press
Every writer encounters their muse at one point or another in their career, and more often than not, it’s a muse that he or she didn’t know existed. The muse is said to be the whisperer of inspiration, the entity that burrows inside artists and breeds ideas and dreams. It’s the harbinger of thoughts and design, the herald for nightmares and terrors. The muse, often portrayed as a feminine seductress, is not always the kind and fragile being that fables have revealed her to be. Sometimes she’s a man. Sometimes she’s not even human. And sometimes, the motivation she brings isn’t the intoxicating experience the writer had in mind.
Ladies and Other Vicious Creatures is a chapbook of poetry by Donna Lynch that explores the tradition of the muse, both familiar and strange. It’s a collection about the process of being infected, about the possession that takes over when an artist becomes enthralled and lost within the story she’s creating. Her poetry is dark, but beautifully done in the Gothic tradition in that her words create a foundation for an attractive tragedy, one that the reader is all but too willing to watch.
Her muses come in all shapes and sizes, all ages and forms, but make no mistake… they are all vicious. Each poem is a different encounter, an awakening that breathes fear onto the page. Her poetry bears its fangs, claws at the mind, and breaks down doors that should have remained closed. There’s no escaping inspiration, whether one is ready for it, or not.
Poems such as “Ursa Minor” and “Eighteen Years” delve deeper into the meaning of getting lost in the story, of being consumed by the plot. Ideas have a way of multiplying once they’re planted, and Lynch explores the grounds of bereavement when she can’t escape the monsters that she’s created. Her characters, ever plagued by the muses they’ve called, are left stricken, smitten by the beast.
Left to pick up the pieces of her inspiration’s company, Lynch tells a story of contamination. With the characterization of the muse portrayed as a disease—a walking contagion—she inflicts her readers with its premise. The muse becomes setting as much as character, protagonist as much as antagonist. It’s a weary line of acceptance, and it’s hard to tell whether or not the inspiration is welcomed.
Ladies and Other Vicious Creatures is a collection of exploration. It tempts the reader to question their own muse, and whether or not his or her intention to inspire is decent. Her poetry lifts the curtain on the exact moment when the mind is set on fire, aflame with ideas and thoughts, and then drags it down a dusty road making the reader think twice about its motive. Coupled with artwork by Steven Archer, the collection warns against the call to the muse, because there is always a price to pay when inspiration strikes.
-Stephanie M. Wytovich