This is a review, but in some ways it really isn't. Lara Rae's beautiful epic poem about womanhood, history, friendship, and death is a superb piece of writing. It takes a little getting used to the style, but for those willing to follow and play (and armed with a mild working-knowledge of Greek mythology) the poem follows an immense journey over millennia.
The story centres around two women: Lara and Catherine. Although this is an epic poem, its story is one of real and hard truths, specifically Lara's experiences as a transgendered woman, and Catherine's experiences as a woman with brain cancer. Rae's treatment of both topics is highly symbolic, which might turn some off (for me this was a real treat; why not use poetry to help us deal with the most challenging issues of our time?!). Heightened times call for heightened language.
The deeply personal nature of the story affected me more than I expected. Catherine in this story is a very old friend of mine; Lara's beautiful ode to this astoundingly talented and loving human awoke tears in me, at the thought that the world will ultimately lose her. It truly did break my heart, as this hard truth means that there are thousands who will never know her brilliance, her humour, her talent.
I think the presentation, although simple, could have been even simpler; at times Rae got up to get papers from a desk....this wasn't needed. Her cadence and presentation of the story was so powerful that she certainly did not need to get up. She had us hanging on her every word. The one thing lacking in the poem was a hint as to how (or why?) Lara's character is also dying, just to tie the story of millennia, the cycles of existence, together.
This is a truly beautiful piece of writing. Go see it.