Review: New Mythologies

New Mythologies
Chapbook, Kym Cunningham, 44 pgs, Dream Pop Press,, $11.95 USD

The stories in these poems literally grow from women’s bodies. A “girlmadeofrocks” inhabits one. In another, a character recounts that “themarkshavebeenwithher since birth / thatheygrewasshe emergedfroma freckleblossomed / intostraw orrasp berries.”

Kym Cunningham deals in antipodes across these surrealistic fables: the interior body versus the exterior; the body’s relation to natural and manmade environments; consumption and erosion; the past and the future; opposition and compatibility. Text is expunged or exploded, then reassembled into a form that is new and always at least slightly familiar.

New Mythologies leans primarily in two stylistic directions. Various formats of erasure poetry comprise the first — words are either removed, redacted or obscured to reveal new meaning within a larger text. Something close to a cut-up technique covers the remainder, where words are split and glued back together in a corrupted syntax.

On first read, this collection is as bewildering as the lyrics to a Flaming Lips album. It takes time to connect with Cunningham’s poems, to unpack the rearranged speech and to try and find meaning that goes beyond the surface stories. Understanding is eventually found in the universal language, symbolism and metaphors of fairy tales.