The lilacs have risen to solo in the corner orchestra of greens.
Purple odours permeate the branched alveoli of my lungs.
I slip through the briars, listen to wind shaking the canopy, stand
in place till I’m pulled through the port of entry.
I fight. Play possum. But my wit leaks as lilacs rust
from bone ivory. Death seeps. I hold
my breath to tease the light they say is coming,
but like the trees I darken the forest.
You must find the hidden passage inside the earth’s purse.
Chewing worms. Burrowing owls! Nothing is still,
not even my mind turning to brain, a field in fallow. The earth
slides over my face. I see the exchange that’s happening —
a dead mother wants out. Her red hair rises with the wings
of insects, and I sink further than the lair of the fox.
after “The Woman and the Hill,” Hare Soup by Dorothy Molloy
Reviews & Praise
“In her fifth collection of poetry, Catherine Graham breaks into rich, new territory. Long recognized for the easy grace and strange beauty of her poems about grief and remembrance, in Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects, she turns her thoughts toward poems of tribute and exaltation. Paying homage to the work of two inspiring poets — P. K. Page, whose long life and celebrated career have made her a legend in her native Canada, and Dorothy Molloy, an Irish poet whose life was tragically cut short just as readers were discovering the true scope of her talents — Graham has crafted an ocean-spanning book of deep feeling, good humour and hard-won solace.”
— Paul Vermeersch, Senior Editor, Wolsak and Wynn
“Graham’s poems are sparely worded but full of evocative images that vividly convey a wide range of emotion, from passion to grief.”
— CBC Books
“Catherine Graham delivered exquisite sylvan imagery.”
— Jane Berg, Three Weeks Edinburgh, Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016, 5/5 star review
“Catherine Graham is an accomplished poet with a generous and whimsical mind, whose candid poetry offers us startling insights. Graham’s work is fresh, sophisticated and beautifully crafted. It moves easily between imagine and natural worlds, from mashed potato dolls to nipples to the Queen and Bobby Orr, in meditation and song. Her muscular images and sensual language are wrought in lines that are as evocative as those of her mentors, Seamus Heaney, Paul Durcan and Paul Muldoon.”
— the judges of the Raymond Souster Award
“Such dark and disquieting poems…such language: snowfall–“spin calm into a bleach explosion” “the waves/ lap against me, sizzling white strings.” And “Ceramic!” The muse, here, is the rampaging bull in the china shop crèche: “and the stiff baby cries in ceramic. Now black is a crack below/ blue-robed Mary who screams she’ll eat your hair with fluorescent teeth.” Things are infused with feelings, from the turbulent depths where we are prey to all that eats at us– “we, walking meals for mosquitoes.” So stringent and startling, the seamless way the borrowed images burrow and find an unsettling home.”
— Eleanor Wilner, The Girl with Bees in Her Hair
“Graham is exact as NASA, and as elegant as P.K. Page … She has the technical mastery to make the glosas disappear — what I mean is that the technique vanishes and we are left with strong, vibrant poems that aren’t bridled by technique. There is humour, wit, sensual experience, fantasy and grace in these poems.”
— Michael Dennis, Michael Dennis Poet
“The book grew exhilarating as it revealed a sly and dark call and response between the two writers [Graham and Molloy] as poem after poem unfolded.”
— Mark Sampson, Free Range Reading
“Graham’s fifth poetry collection, Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects, began as a deliberate experiment that turned gothic and magical.”
— George Elliott Clarke, The Chronicle Herald
“This is no simple book of poetry. It is sensual and dark, a feast for the senses. Her grace with language is sublime.”
— Rayanne Doucet, Canadian Poetries
“‘Cloak’ was a very rhythmic piece that took the second-person point-of-view, a voice which seems to trouble a lot of writers, but which Graham utilized effortlessly… Graham’s poetry just seems to be getting better and better.”
— Tracy Kyncl, Town Crier
“This was a wonderful collection to read. No doubt I will be reading it again and again.”
— buecom, The Library of Pacific Tranquility
“The gothic, textured, ornately spare cover design is gorgeous and the experimental entrances into Dorothy Molloy’s poems are fascinating. I adore form and fiddlings with it and Graham shows what can happen when one reads a deceased poet’s work so deeply that their spirit in a sense infiltrates, shaping not only the content, but more importantly, the structure of the work.”
— Catherine Owen, The Relentless Adventures of OCD Crow
“The elegant fifth collection of poetry by Catherine Graham is an experiment gone right…. A master of vivid imagery, Graham evokes all the senses, allowing readers to bask along the way in both the beauty and horror of the world.”
— Jessica Rose, This Magazine
“While reading the entrancing poetry collection by Catherine Graham, Her Red Hair Rises With The Wings of Insects, I think you’d need chocolate-covered ginger, mysterious, exotic, deep, with many nuances of flavours; bittersweet, tart, memorable, teasing with the soft texture of melting chocolate, the tiny roughness of the ginger graining against your tongue, leaving a tiny sugar bead, palate satisfaction and a lingering taste of wanting more.”
— Lisa de Nikolits, Mesdames of Mayhem
“Graham offers no easy answers, and what at first looks like defeatism and resignation in the face of pain gives way to a hard-won acceptance.”
— Arc Poetry Magazine, Anouk H. Henri
“While the original idea for the collection was formed using the straightjacket restraint, the final poems blossomed out of a resistant and creative freedom. The final product is subtly violent and beautifully poetic.”
“Catherine Graham is the über-maestro of whipping up images that startle, surprise and delight … she lays bare all our desires, fears and hopes. She shows how we are sculpted by society, how our intellects are forced into cookie cutter molds and yet the characters in her poems resist this forced shaping and they speak with their own voices, voices that are unforgettable and brutally pure.”
— Brick Books Celebration of Canadian Poetry