The pressure of all that light
Available from Rebel Satori Press and Amazon!
Holly Painter’s third collection charts a course through the tender friendships and lonely queer crushes of childhood and adolescence in Midwestern America and on to the dizzying freedoms of California and the disorientation of love and heartache in New Zealand. Energetic and intimate, these poems blend the personal and the pastoral in their exploration of how we arrive at ourselves.
These are poems with narrative tension, imagery sensuous and sleek as peach slices in sweet clear syrup, poems that explore the apparently small shocks and nicks of childhood experience that in reality are formative, in turns eroding and galvanising; poems that move into the ruminative and receptive mode of a hard-won adulthood, too. The collection is a gorgeously crafted, painfully moving catalogue of acute perceptions and growth into, or realisation of identity in a society that is still aggressively layered with bigotry and ignorance — and yet which also offers pockets of empathy and love. I found myself rocked, racked, elated and tearful in such quick succession with this collection that it was easy at first to overlook the technical grace and robustness in the poems: but it is there, strong and supple, both helping to carry us over waves of grief, and to drive us through an at times almost ecstatic series of observations of the human carnival. –Emma Neale (To the Occupant; The Pink Jumpsuit; Billy Bird)
Tackling travel, gender, young love, sex, and a rocky emergence from childhood through adolescence and into a vibrantly rendered adulthood, The pressure of all that light is a swaggeringly beautiful account of a person in the process of becoming. The language of this collection ranges from spare and spot on to lush and imaginative, and never fails to surprise. Painter’s poems span across years, states and varying landscapes and, as readers, we willingly follow with such a deft hand to guide us. I trust few poets to delve as steadily and meticulously into the mechanics of the human heart as Holly Painter. This collection is a stunning accomplishment. – Meg Reynolds (Does the Earth; A Comic Year)
Holly Painter’s poems keep adding to memory like a brush, painting over layers, such that if you scratch the surface it’s striped with history. Real life is made of words, and there are no words for exactly how to say how it feels: to fall in love in a foreign place, to live between genders, to be a human all this time, except maybe all these ones together. The pressure of all this light is the pressure to see everything. Here, on this planet, there is too much to see, and it all goes so well together. – Paul Legault (The Tower; Lunch Poems 2; Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror 2)