Dark Energies is the powerful latest collection by American poet, Ann K. Schwader. New and hard-to-procure collected poems expand the vista of her artistic vision. They explore human plight in a dark cosmos and pitch historical, contemporary and futuristic observations in spellbinding metrical forms. As with all memorable poetry, this collection creates a thirst for more of her work.
Inspired by writers as diverse and distant in time as Homer, Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and Edna St. Vincent Millay, Schwader carves a formidable place in the imaginative literary tradition. She is a much-valued contemporary of Marge Simon, Bruce Boston, Richard L. Tierney, Leigh Blackmore, Kyla Lee Ward, Robert M. Price and S. T. Joshi.
Titles such as "Fatal Constellations," "Medusa, Becoming," "Frost Ghosts," "Set Comes to Whitechapel," and "Desert Nocturne," give a hint of the powerful imaginings swirling through Dark Energies and lend themselves to fancies of other times and spaces.
The essence of Dark Energies is conceived through the persistent challenge of cosmic darkness and the rare piercing light in that darkness. It burgeons with imagination, meaning and existence, and poses perennial, eternal questions.
In Dark Energies we plummet through abysses of sensation and riotous imagination, as when "we sheathe / our minds in lilac-sweet despair" ("Frost Ghosts"), or see "In autumn, the leaves grow heavy with omens / cryptic & golden" ("Wind Shift").
Historical poems, such as "Night Laundry" set in London, 1843, and "Necropolis Railway Incident" set in contemporary London but laced with memories of the Blitz in World War II, provoke remarkable and dire associations of time and fateful human experience.
Schwader's work links modern and traditional poetry forms. She employs the English sonnet, the French sestina, the Japanese haibun (haiku-like fragments) and other poetry forms with masterly skill.
Her skilled literary characterization builds on mythological, historical and Lovecraftian Mythos personalities and she creates original fictional characters of resilience, integrity and vitality, including female protagonists who transcend "heroine" and "victim" stereotypes.
Above all, there is a steady beat of realism in her work, exuded through calm and reflective language, reminiscent of Coleridge's observation on the suspension of disbelief in literature. The realism and calmness of Schwader's expression allows the reader to absorb the cryptic cosmic messages that underlie her work.
By turns Lovecraftian, archaeological, historical, contemporary, and futuristic, her poetry fulfils S. T. Joshi's perspective that "her imaginative palette is remarkably wide." Fantasy and imagination vie with responsibility and reality to deliver a work of absorbing resonance and outstanding quality.
Schwader is a most talented, award-winning poet (SFPA Rhysling; Bram Stoker Award finalist). This is her seventh poetry collection, and her first book published in Australia. Issued in hardcover ISBN 978-0-9943901-0-3, and paperback ISBN 978-0-9804625-1-7.