‘She Woke & Rose introduces us to a poet, Autumn Royal, who is unafraid to spark light in the darkest of places. The poems in this impressive debut collection illuminate the uneasy space of the body, the tomb of emotional memory, the ugliness of misogyny, the abyss of consumerism, and the violent desire for communion.’ Read more of Maria Takolander’s introduction here:
This manuscript, commissioned by Kent McCarter of Cordite Poetry Review for his limited edition collections (Cordite Books), acknowledges Autumn Royal as an emerging poet to watch.
Autumn has a growing presence online where she contributes poetry and intelligent, insightful criticism to our best journals. I look forward to holding this peony rose in my hand. This book is going to be special not only for its poetry but also for its stunning cover by one of our best designers.
About Zoë Sadokierski
I am, possessive, still
Of the rose I have harvested
from the edge of her roadside
grave, distressed from the sun,
still livid, I am in the way
I move & still, it follows, the red
sand stuck in wanting,
sweat clung to my skin. I steal
for memories & the sky, haunting
these frayed petals, believing fingers
will tremble beneath resemblances
of hands, watching you kneel
on a mat under this direction
a procedure of breathing & slipping,
dry this rose, will never.
You don’t need eyes to see
O Aristotle’s lantern, such a canonical
clasping of teeth, the sea urchin drilling futures
into rocks shocking
against the shore of my reasoning
for wanting to step
over the line breaks of your story,
how they mimicked the needle-like spines
projecting from the urchin’s purple & orbed
body. Grip for me the ocean floor & soft organs
shielded by shell crackling beneath our mass.
Five petals & five rows of harmonising teeth will consume
my animal & plant experience, the radial symmetry of their worlds
unlike our flesh & inability to possess a mouth
under the body. Although sea urchins have no visual organs
they use their spines to detect light,
forming images from shadows
falling over their external selves,
it’s undetermined if the density of spikes
matters for the quality of the urchin’s sight,
regardless of this, you’re unable to divulge your interiors
in order to release the barbs haunting beneath the skin of your foot.
‘Revenge on the head (genitals, breast, untouched)
revenge on the mouth’ – Adrienne Rich
Inhale & raise your arms
above your head
all arrangements require pain
as you slowly lower your arms, exhale
& pour your pleasure into a crystal vase,
such an elegant waist
no visible damage —
only detected if a warm finger
rubs firmly over rim —
stop for a moment
& look at this photograph of my mother’s wisteria
do you think she’s attractive? / not as attractive as you
what does it feel like to be in a body,
is context enough?
now — elevate your pleasure
over the oily glaze of my hair — fleeting tiara
I shine, radiate
around you until breathless & you smash
over the slate floor,
sparkling sharp & milky-wet.
Autumn spent her formative years in outback South Australia before relocating to the Victorian coast. She worked in the publishing industry for several years before commencing a PhD at Deakin University, where she teaches creative writing. Her poetry and criticism have appeared in publications such as
Cordite Poetry Review, Mascara Literary Review and TEXT Journal. ‘She Woke and Rose’ is her debut collection.