Wayward Daughters Drifts like Glitter in the Wind
Poet Ashly Kim sums up her 2017 publication in one of her own verses. Wayward Daughters is “everything and / nothing / all at once.” This is a poetry collection of prettiness; it’s a glitterbomb that poses a protest of freedom without much fire. This narrative collection follows the travelings of the Greene sisters – Cassandra, Madison and Anna. While these “…impossible, difficult damn daughters…” fill themselves on “…delicious fried fish….” and street tacos, the readers are left empty. It’s as if they’ve had a minuscule serving at some fancy restaurant placed before them and are told, “Here. You are satisfied,” when in reality they are left with a “…perpetual ache…,” just like these sisters. The collection feels unfinished; there is so much more that could be explored about these three girls.
There are a few poems like “frolicsome” and “don’t stop” that make the brain tick with excitement about language.
These motel walls
are crumbling crepe paper
and I think every tired person here
must know this bastard’s name.don’t stop
The roguish attitude of this piece is caustically fun as is the metaphor of “…crumbling crepe paper…” walls. But the sentence seen above is the entirety of “don’t stop”, which wouldn’t be an issue if there was something else for readers to sink their teeth into as they read. “frolicsome” teases with the beginnings of the Greene sisters’ wild ride with lovely turns of phrase that smell of adventurous winds.
It was wrong, we said,
but we smiled anyway,
strange and puckish smiles,
and we swore to not be gone
This piece drips with the anticipation of some kind magical realism that is not never brought to fruition. It begs the question why such riveting imagery decorates the cover when Kim doesn’t deliver these fantastical themes or even more character development into the text. Feed us the stories of that horned girl and that blindfolded daughter refusing to see. What is she refusing to see exactly? The pain caused by her childhood abuse as readers are shown in “pretty girls”? The reality that “…women of eternal youth…” are only made through death like Peter Pan’s lost boys? Like the lovers the Greene sisters leave behind from place to place, the readers are left wondering exactly who these daughters are.
Minimalist poetry needs to be packed with teeth and tears in order to affect some kind of emotional response in the reader. Wayward Daughters can be read through so quickly, because the poems breeze by without any kind of anchor. In all fairness, so too do the Greene girls. They may be runaways from the rigid ambitions of their mother, but they are listless, homeless, always drawn to something somewhere else. Readers can only catch quick glimpses of these girls in the reflections of glass bottles as they walk out the door towards their next destination. They know as little about these characters as they seem to know about themselves.
Readers eager to embark on their own journey with the Greene girls can order this collection online.
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