Linda Ann Strang’s first poetry collection skilfully entwines fairy tales, womanhood, African culture, and the female psyche. The warrior mother, the spurned lover, the maltreated bride: they are all here, expertly drawn in lush, original language that you’ll want to wallow in from beginning to end.
Unflinching and intuitive, Strang’s forty-two poems paint an image of womanhood and femininity that is at once insightful, witty, dark, intimate, and utterly human.
“This is as rich a collection of meaningful and dazzling poetry as has been placed before the public in a long time. Read her and fall in love!”
Grady Harp, Amazon Hall of Fame Top 50 Reviewer
“Crafted with startling images and deft twirlings of language, [Strang’s fabulous women] are as diverse as a bruised wife who wears her ‘gore like an evening dress – / tanzanite, rubies, and blueberry pearls’ and a grandmother who ‘beats her demons into frothy submission / with a wooden spoon and broom, / and bakes them to keep watch at her gate / like good dogs.'”
“This is a cohesive selection of surreal, feminist poems. It speaks of strong women in South Africa. Women for whom rape and abuse may be a way of life. Women, who don’t wallow in being victims but get on with their lives. Like sand, weed and fish, womanhood, language and literature brush against each other to create complete microcosms.”
“If poets would have us fall for them, this is a poet to fall for. But be careful where you go. In Linda Ann Strang’s first collection of poems, Wedding Underwear for Mermaids, one sets out from the unsettling banks of its title, a purposefully slippery trope that will have you wrapping your mind around an image as elusive as the legendary undine herself. And you are right where the poet wants you: in the elemental waters of the subconscious while grounded in familiar earthly and cultural spheres, a feat few poets manage as convincingly as Ms. Strang does.
We are in for a ride–the siren’s ride, to be precise. After all, the title beckons us toward new shores, so to new shores (read: crossing the liminal of the subliminal) the reader must be willing to go. “Indeed, the female psyche that holds the ‘happily ever after’ like a treasure box reveals an inner world alive with fairy tales and pagan myth, one you don’t want to betray and that keeps you alert to what is important to it. The fairy tale moral is beauty; there’s no Christian or man-made moral. The puzzle fits, so it’s beautiful. That’s how Ms. Strang’s poems unfold. Cinematic in quality, if not in form, her poems jump-cut from scene to scene, with cultural allusions layering elliptical narrative arcs through multicultural distances and multi-ethnic relations, sometimes at warp speed. High-voltage sensuality is delivered via visual collage in an everyday performance not only where Africa and the West meet, but also where colors and textures rich and sensuous translate into a cohesive choice of words, born out of the poet’s command of the senses. “Smart and incisive, Strang knows the right moves, ringing the changes on key places of her poetic inner- and outer-scapes–namely, African culture and ethnicity, sexual beauty and intimacy, legends and nostalgia, transformation and the body. She falls, and we fall with her, into language crackling, nervy, and bold with the right attitude at the right time—poems as crafted, contemporary journeys propelled by wit and tillered by the archetypal feminine.”
Right after I tasted the magic mushrooms
I fell into him and other nightmares.
He tied me up for twenty years
and made me view horror movies, starring,
of course in Technicolor, myself.
I played a supporting role.
Always killed off before the final girl
ran around shrieking in her torn T-shirt,
I wore my gore like an evening dress –
tanzanite, rubies, and blueberry pearls
from the heart’s oozing oyster.
I didn’t mind too much:
the pawns on the pornography chessboard
fawned over me; the Cheshire cat
with the preview eyes and the toupee
lent me his fake smile on Tuesdays;
and I could have my way with opium smoking
caterpillars – if I wore stilettos
and let my husband watch.
I remember my wedding day. Do you take this …, began the axe murderer
in his dog collar, reaching for the chain saw. Yes, I take it, I take it, and I’ll take it some more.
The baby’s breath in my bouquet
burst into flames. The entire congregation
kissed my slit throat.
I gave my groom a flamingo golf club
and a wedding ring. He aimed the remote.