Friday, February 12, 2021

The Withering, By Ashley Dioses


The Withering, by Ashley Dioses: Jackanapes Press, 135 pages. Poetry.

I picked up a signed copy of this book from the author and read it over about a week to savor the poetry inside. There are 55 poems, divided into 4 sections entitled: A Luminous Darkness, Pale Radiance, Night Cries, and A is for Axe Murderer. In an Afterword, the author tells us a little about her genesis as a poet and about the pieces in the collection. She indicates that these are primarily pieces from early in her writing career, dating back even to high school.  (She has actually had a previous collection of poetry published called Diary of a Sorceress, which contains poems from later in her career.)

The collection is impressive for a writer of such youth. I also wrote some poetry at a young age but nothing as erudite as these. They are definitely not juvenilia, but fully realized and articulate pieces. They are rhyming poems, written around horror themes, and often with a formal structure. It’s a difficult style to master but Dioses moves through them with verve and confidence.

My favorites in the collection are “Obliterate,” “Hollow King,” and  “I am the most Beautiful Angel.” Here’s a quatrain from “Obliterate.”

The stones erode away,

And tales evaporate.

All memories decay,

The years obliterate.

There are also many other wonderful lines in other pieces, such as “My heart and soul are sparrow-black” and “Then scents of smoke, of myrrh, of rum,…”

There’s an outstanding cover by Mutartis Boswell, whose work I don’t remember seeing before but which I imagine I’ll see a lot of in the future. Boswell also did numerous interior illustrations for the book, which are set beautifully to really enhance the presentation of the poetry.

All in all, The Withering is a very professional package filled with some lovingly crafted and memorable poems. If you’re into dark poetry, this is an excellent reading choice.