Christine Bode is the founder of SCULLY LOVE PROMO, a promotions and editing company offering savvy social media marketing services to musicians and authors. She's helped me enormously with everything from spreading the word about my films and music to even setting up this website. I've known her for over 8 years.
It was only a month ago though that I discovered Christine is also a profoundly gifted writer.
I've been reading her first book of poetry, Eden Refugee, for the past 4 weeks. I'll admit right now I'm not a critic and never hope to be one (I wonder sometimes what would happen if more critics felt the same.) But it is blatantly obvious to me that Christine Bode has created an achingly beautiful work of art here.
Poetry is tricky. It's like painting, filmmaking or starting a band; everyone thinks they can do it. It's hard to say why some people break through the tinsel and find something truly unique, rare and fine like Christine has.
Some say art has to be honest. Christine's poetry is bracingly so. Some say great art comes from great feeling, most frequently real emotional distress or turmoil. Christine's poetry carries the salt of her tears, her sweat and her blood. But, great art is not just the baring of the soul. I see people baring their souls every three seconds. I wonder if perhaps some souls should keep their clothes on.
To me the crucial and intangible ingredient is skill. In Eden Refugee Christine's artistry is felt behind the delicate line of every tear, the rhythmic fall of the drops of sweat and the thrill of a bright flash of blood at just the right, unexpected time. There is anger in these poems. There is joy. There is exquisite beauty. There is the razor blade. There is the crushing black wave of loneliness. There is tremendous courage. There is the utterly frank questioning of things with the wisdom of the adult who has felt the blows and yet simultaneously the persistent innocence of the young child who still sees the world as bright, loving and full of hope.
Christine's complex relationship with a distant and withholding father resonates through several of the poems. One of my favorite lines comes at the end of All I Know.
It's the choice of the word 'mister' that does it for me. Just behind the punch is a sly, very sharp sense of humor that underlies most of the collection. It is here in this closing stanza from A Scathing Tirade where Christine addresses her father again.
Christine's poems have the pulse of life in them. The images flow like short films and the words have the steady drive of music, like the deeply personal lyrics to rock songs akin to Springsteen and U2, both of whom Christine draws literal connection to in her work.
There is spiritual questioning; the thoughts we all have. The thoughts we all have and many times never acknowledge we're having them. There is self-awareness. There is self-pity. But, there is always the refreshing return to the power of her own truth. In Peyman The Persian Christine addresses her conflicted feelings after months of loneliness lead her to a blind date that does not turn out well.
Reading these poems touched me deeply in ways I never expected.
They also enriched and thrilled me.
I know I will be returning to them.