Books & Literature

Book Review: Siarad, by Caroline Reid

POETRY/FLASH FICTION: A collection of spoken word, prose poetry and micro-fiction, speaking to the memories and emotions that move us through decades, continents and cultures.

An exciting and thought-provoking collection, pulling together some of Reid’s best writing.

Adelaide writer Caroline Reid defies categorisation. Mostly known as a performance poet, she has written plays, short-fiction and cross-form works.

Siarad pulls together some of her best writing, from recent works to those from the distant past. The title is the Welsh word meaning to talk or speak. Between the covers of this funkily designed book are poems, flash fiction and snatches of genre-bending prose.

Most surprising is Reid’s flash fiction: very short pieces which can be read in a few minutes. She nails this difficult genre, giving the reader a full, narrative experience in a just a couple of pages. Ollie’s Blood Roses for example, summons up the complex family and friend relationships of adolescence. Cooked Bones cleverly explores a man’s obsession with his neighbour’s noisy dog, where everything may not be as it seems.

Reid’s poetry is often free-form, and much of it was written to be performed. This lends a liveliness to the work, which still sits happily on the page. The opening piece, To Touch and Taste a Comet, is a prime example: a poem which works on many different levels and can be re-read to find more layers. Sister is particularly moving and confronting, as the best of Reid’s work always is. Resistance is a love poem with a difference, invoking highly relatable images to craft work which is still quirkily romantic.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable little volume, with enough variety to dip in and out of. It is also a great introduction to poetry and flash fiction for the uninitiated. Reid’s writing is satisfyingly complex, without being obscure, and relatable without being simplistic. The layout lends ease to the reading, with large print and plenty of white space, sitting within a beautiful design by Bettina Kaiser.

If you hated poetry at school and haven’t read it since, this might just be the book to reignite your interest.

Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Twitter: @TraceyKorsten

Distributed by: Spineless Wonders
Released: January 2020
RRP: $24.99

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