Vashti Campbell Reviews Transcendent Connected Collection
Jessi MacEachern’s debut work, A Number of Stunning Attacks, transcends the bounds of a collection of poetry. It is a collection of interconnecting stories, enjambed within sparse poetic verse. The writing itself—the crafting of story-within-poem—is its own series of stunning attacks; imagery jumps off the page, stark and beautiful and insistent:
“Eventual moonlight collides with the wall” and “Bridal dresses chlorinate the night.”
Language dances across the page, playful yet never prosaic.
Filled with spaciousness and enveloped within dropped lines, her work builds upon itself and is simultaneously deconstructed by itself. It is Meta, self-referential in the most unpretentious ways. Like light refracting within a prism, it is an interplay of its own existence.
These poems are “shards” (a metaphor MacEachern returns to repeatedly) of the reflected whole within which they exist, fractured fragments not unlike a shattered mirror still in its frame, broken pieces that are connected but with sharp edges. Images are in turn obscured by and obscuring the structure of the story.
Contradictions and confrontations of text are formed through the writer’s multifaceted juxtapositions. Her themes transgress—step through and into—Oneness, duality and collectivity; light, dark and colour; Beingness, non-being and consciousness; dream, subjective realness and the concrete; the inner, the outer and the liminal.
This is a sensual sensory journey and MacEachern writes with a rhythm that brings the reader into the felt-sense of her world, and holds us captive there in the stillness of her spaces.
MacEachern explores the page—spatially—and themes of sexuality, gender and desire. She presents relationships to self and others as if they are aromatic notions caught in the breeze, drawing the reader’s attention curiously toward them.
A nameless protagonist dreams. She comes more fully into Being, experiencing agency and intimacy. Hers is the story—a truth—of Being women.
In MacEachern’s text, the spaces between words are as important as the words themselves. And this, I believe, is the point. Attacks is worth reading a second time—once as introduction to a new environment and the second for the sake of wonder at her immersive World.