Callisto | Lisa Matthews

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    Callisto is a cabinet of curiosities, of curiosity—curiosity being not the least part of that 'tenderness of tools' this poet brings to her dealings with the recalcitrant world.

     

    We are a recalcitrant people: amphibian, hybrid; prosaic-poetical; urban-natural inhabitants of 'Grasshopper Hill'.

     

    Put the light on and the world of Callisto—like its wrap-around cover of cockroaches—comes apart before its own eyes, before ours.

     

    Like Tiller, we stand 'to one side of where the light is'; our feet disappear into deep dark waters. There is uncertainty here that is atomic, ontological—and ordinary as relationship. Nine times in 'estrangement' it says 'when you want to come back you will'.

     

    Presence is absence: absence, presence. Like memory and imagination, they stand in for one another in this world. What is the difference, in the end, between 'solid memories' of the poet's own childhood and the memories imagined in 'the book of neverborn' for the child desired but unconceived?

     

    Here is a world of terror and exhilaration that defies prefabricated definition; a world determined on a truthful exploration of itself at any cost; a world in which there is no comfort, no security, but what is earned through love.

     

    It takes considerable courage to sustain and survive such uncertainty. Above all, Callisto is a courageous book, clear-eyed, unflinching.

     

    Gillian Allnutt 

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