Rainbow Body is a celebration of the feminine and the mystical.
The twelve poems have enchanting expression such as “her bungled face galumphing through the bur clover”: Neysa King clearly had great fun with exploration of language. The enjambment focuses the reader’s attention: uneven lines in stanzas of even size result in unusual line-breaks. Metaphors and similes draw the reader to deeper understanding and connection, leaving a sense of satisfaction.
Americana is outstanding: basically a list, it starts with domestic life shown through baked cookies, and ends with the sad reality of violence on the streets. The delightful wordplay combines individual words to make other words, or nonsensical words, that require closer reading. This play with the language is what makes this poetry such a pleasure to read.
Many of King’s poems feature this sudden switch between comfort and discomfort, keeping the audience on their toes. The move from imagery close to home (the domestic concerns of modern American women) to wider social issues (perspectives of the undesirable elements in modern America) creates effective juxtapositions which jar the reader out of the sense of security created by the evocative imagery. In this way, the writing is as “earnest as an unaccompanied cello”.
Barbie Doll Baseball exposes a childhood repurposing of a Barbie doll into a baseball game. The matter-of-fact depiction of the process is intertwined with social commentary on Barbie’s unrealistic anatomical dimensions – long criticised as unachievable – raising questions of Barbie’s role in society as a role model of womanhood for the girls who play with her.
The title poem contains short lines with no punctuation, inviting readers to pause where they see fit. Its many nature references allude to the mystic, and its ending “I believe some God made me on purpose” furthers this connection. The author then explains that “the phrase ‘rainbow body’ is a spiritual phenomenon in which the physical body of an enlightened being shrinks in preparation for the being’s ultimate transition into light and spirit” – which not only refers directly to the title poem, but also puts the rest into perspective.
The design of this tribute to femininity and the female form (beyond the front cover) is plain: the overall product would benefit from internal design elements to complement the expansive creativity of the writing.
This eclectic collection weaves together stunning mental imagery. Rainbow Body is an absolute joy.