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Review of Darksong by Tasha L. Mourru, Shadowfox Publications

As the first title in the Shadowfox Publications "Voices in the Shadows" series, Darksong by Tasha L. Mourru is suitably dark, gothic and filled with an elegant sadness. In these free verse poems, Mourru explores a psychic terrain where life is fleeting and tragic and where love--the only imperfect refuge from life's pain--is an intense and dangerous undertaking.

The poem "Unmaking" is a typical example of Mourru's approach to the problem of love. Here she depicts passion as a destructive force inseparable from our physical desires: "Vagina dentata, / I trap you like a fly, / impossible jaws closing / over the whole of you." While love can trap the unwary, the isolated self is a transitory and unstable phenomenon, equally incapable of providing true satisfaction. In "Phoenix" Mourru speaks of the many selves we go through in a single lifetime as we "kindle the fire with false-faces / and feed the flames with masks."

Perhaps the most interesting poem in Darksong is "Collage Noire," in which Mourru assembles fragments and phrases from the poems of Rilke, Eliot, Poe and a dozen others to construct an original and surprisingly coherent collage poem about the transitory beauty of life. The poem itself, comprised of the words of many different writers, embodies Mourru's idea of the self as many-selved. It ends with the words: "The brief candle / goes out with a whimper. / My soul, dressed in silence, / rises up. / What matter, so there is but fire / in you, in me?" Is this the same fire we feed with "false-faces" and "masks"?

One hopes that future titles in the "Voices in the Shadows" series are as intelligent and delicately melancholy as is this initial offering.

--Thomas Wiloch