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Poetry Women Authors

some conditions apply

by (author) Mary Rykov

Inanna Publications
Initial publish date
May 2020
Women Authors, Canadian, Caribbean & Latin American
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2020
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2020
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This debut poetry collection is a breathtaking array of poems, wisdom, reflection, and all that comes in between. The sections are perfectly placed, providing interludes that allow for breath and temporary relief, needed because of the powerful themes, images, word choices. The poems in some conditions apply delight in the power of art to transmute pain through beauty. They observe, question, laugh, and weep. The collection is structured in four untitled sections to enable readers to project their own meanings. Meaning is accessible but sometimes also intentionally layered and ambiguous, urging readers to let the poems "be" and not "mean," as per Archibald MacLeish. Poetic forms, dictated by the idiosyncratic nature of the poems, don't represent all possible forms and don't adhere to standard conventions. The poetic style is modernistic, conventional, and influenced by (and even includes) song lyrics. The poems speak deep, resonant truths and are infused with the poet's experience of music and music therapy, attesting to the power of beauty to transform even the most painful of experiences.

About the author

Mary Rykov is a Toronto writer, editor, educator, and music therapist-researcher. She holds a PhD in Adult Education (OISE/UT 2006) and an MA in Music Therapy (NYU 1995). Her poems and essays appear in numerous print and web venues. She serves as proofreader on the Pulp Literature masthead and freelances as a writing mentor and editor in multiple genres. When not playing with words or music, she is a voracious knitter and ardent dandelion enthusiast, cyclist, and foodie.

Mary Rykov's profile page

Excerpt: some conditions apply (by (author) Mary Rykov)

Cadaver Number 929-75

Tension simmers
this music I speak
Pregnant with the world,
babies pop from me
& as I spin their cradles
from my own gut-string
my mind splits open
like a robin's egg cracked
but still singing

Enslaved by feathers and blood
on my windowsill, holy water wells
like stigmata in my palms Lonely as god
before the invention of colour, I leave
only land behind after metaphors fail

The mountain presence rejects nothing
I bumslide down these mountains
& splat into the sea
already so full with bones and miracles,
my closed-quartz throat
a bloodstone-dark jewel of history

Swirling in the cold prick of bubbles
on my underbelly, I sink
reach centre & roil
in its wake

Only my lover sees me
with human — eyes,
eyes that stain
the sky bloody with Betelgeuse
I approach this lover so rough with need
that by day's end his empty scrotum sags,
but first we fall thrashing
like fish in saltchuck

The firemen will say
.they must have smoked in bed
just for godsake don't step there
where slugs ooze viscid mess

When my film splinters white
I do not wake because
I am already married
to a different dangerous man
who rattles the stones
in my skull's cavity
& scrapes my knees
on ice-cleaved ground

A husband whose hammer head
indents my occipital bone
as he shatters me
& splatters my blood

No care can efface this
Janus-pain love
that barks while the sun stands still
in its empty ring of frozen trumpets
& love, love turns to milk stone

Pulled lifeless from Furry Creek,they identify Cadaver Number 929-75
and Mrs Pat Lowther
as one and the same

How dare they doubt me,
doubt I could be this husk


Thanks for the stories whose plot twists
jump out
from behind potted palms
in hotel lobbies
Thanks for the stories whose subtexts
lie about their age and weight,
wear the wrong shade of lipstick
and pad their bras with old clichés

Thanks for the story protagonists
who text while driving
and don't believe
in turn signals

Thanks for the supporting characters
who ramble through frozen food aisles
choosing too much sodium, sugar, and transfats
while talking with their mouths full

Thanks for the genre stories
who leave rings around the bathtub
and never replace
empty toilet paper rolls

Thanks for the first-person narrators
who arrive too early,
stay too late
and tweet too much

Thanks for the second-person narrators
who drink indiscriminately
before noon--
you know who you are

Thanks for the third-person narrators
who are spooked by climate change
and can't be trusted
with nuclear codes

Thanks for all the storiesthese stories tell

Editorial Reviews

"Mary Rykov's is an exuberant, brave voice that ranges from acerbic wit to tender grief. She has an ear alive to the playfulness inherent in our language, and an eye hungry for vivid detail. The poems in some conditions apply range in their concerns from family and identity to pain and the healthcare system, but throughout there is the consistent thread of Rykov's generous spirit. You'll be glad to get to know it in this book."
--Adam Sol, author of How a Poem Moves

"As a music therapist, researcher, and educator, Mary Rykov wears many hats in her first collection. The most personal poems work best, as Rykov avoids the trap of self-indulgence. Rykov allows "music to force its way out," as in the line from "happy hour moon over miami": slurping the oyster bare--the one only love can shuck and toss back to the sea."
--Ron Charach, author of Prosopagnosia

"At times tender and playful, Mary Rykov weaves threads that delight, surprise, and perplex. Much like music therapy, these poems transform. They demand experiential engagement, invite curiosity, and reward the reader with sunlit sparkles and perpetual change in fluid motion."
--Claire Molyneux, editor of Tales from the Music Therapy Room: Creative Connections

"With words clear-sighted, courageous and precise, pain, death, and beauty coexist here in the honesty and skill of Mary Rykov's art. To quote one of her many potent images, she is "searching the butterfly for the pupa's soul."
--Merlin Homer, Artist