A review of And to Ecstasy by Marion Mossammaparast

Reviewed by Beatriz Copello

And to Ecstasy
by Marjon Mossammaparast
Paperback, 100 Pages, March 2022, ISBN: 9780645247923

“I am orphaned of my countries” says Mossammaparast in the prologue of her book And to Ecstasy, after reading this fascinating book it is easy to understand what the poet means by this. Her poems take the reader into a trajectory of different countries, cities and places, both read and via incursions into different realities and planes of existence.

And to Ecstasy is divided into three sections of poetry: “There”, “Here” and “Field” and also contains sections on “Notes”, “References” and “Acknowledgements”.  It is interesting to note that most of the poems do not have individual titles, but they have a note at the bottom of the poem indicating the place where the poem has been written or where is the place that the poem is referring to. I was very impressed by the lyricism of the poet’s writing and the imaginative and beautiful way in which she expresses emotions something that it is very difficult to do as it is easy to fall into sentimentality.

The poems are all set around the world from London to Iran to Tasmania, particularly in the first and second part of the book. With short and poignant pieces, like pieces of knitting which together make a magic carpet, Mossammaparast takes the reader around the globe where we see and feel the tangible and the intangible, as in the following poem that has a note at the bottom that says Neist Point Skye:

Lighthouse, where the harbour-master sent me
beyond which are dreams of pipermen
skipping the Outer Hebrides
here to fall, to drowning
or permeated seamen
who must marry            battered, almost lifted, relinquished to flood
having tied the fishing knots         I see through, the light of Conder,
    tinnies on gentle water
boys, brilliant and brown body
                                                          diving off the sea-wall
                                                                   dissolving into fin

In the collection there are a few poems with the I persona, these poems are not dramatic monologues, they are gentle and subtle poems that tell of experiences some very physical and real others imagined events and transformations. 

We read words about earthy duties, the quotidian, the familiar, the ordinary but also about the sublime and the divine, here are her words:

Twilight: we begin our descent
through roofed portico
towards cemetery and necropolis                               in the garden of Eden
We are dying                                                                         a cycad grows
now, at the hour of death
taking these steps down
that sprang before Australia
(drinking limoncello
laying socks out to dry)
The sky flares we sublimate
through archways, domes   every angle of the spear
and the next
multiplying in death, itself
(Note at the bottom of the poem: San Luca, Bologna)

The poet reminisces about the places she has been, the places she inhabits, her home … but where is her home? Is it the cliché: home is where the heart is? In many of Mossammaparast’s poems the reader will sense certain sensuality, very poignant observations and vivid descriptions, her poetry flows like a river with waters that are sometimes tumultuous others calm, curving gently as a it moves through a forest, caressing gently the rocks that lay at its side.  

One of the poet’s salient concerns is life, the fragility of life, death as well the afterlife. I was fascinated about the metaphysical aspects of her works, works that are coloured by the brush of mythology, philosophy and religion. In this beautiful collection of poems she utilises many literary devices with extraordinary skills. Her voice is strong as a sirocco yet is gentle as a resting heartbeat. The poet appeals to the senses with words that invite reflection.

Love and politics together seem like a contradiction, yet Mossammaparast is able to blend both with sprinkles of religious terminology. Magical words move the reader to different planes of existence, where the God speaks, she says: “Listening to this God I hear children flying a kite”. Mossammaparast has been shortlisted for the 2023 Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry. Am I surprised? Not at all! She is a brilliant poet and deserves this award.   

About the reviewer: Dr Beatriz Copello is an award-winning poet, she writes poetry, fiction, poetry reviews and plays. The author’s books are: Women Souls and Shadows, Meditations At the Edge of a Dream, Under the Gums Long Shade, Forbidden Steps Under the Wisteria, A Call to the Stars translated and published in China and Taiwan, Witches Women and Words, Renacer en Azul and  Lo Irrevocable del Halcon (In Spanish). Copello’s poetry has been published in literary journals such as Southerly and Australian Women’s Book Review and in many feminist publications.  The author has participated in international conferences, has taught Creative Writing at W.S.U. and other scholarly institutions, she has read her poetry at Writers Festivals and other poetry events in Australia and overseas.  Copello is mentioned amongst the forty “most notable people” graduated from the University of Technology.