I love reading poetry, even if I don’t always get it or am smart enough to get the theme being conveyed, but there’s something so phenomenal about reading a poem. About an author baring their soul in a line or over an entire collection.
This collection is gorgeously illustrated by Silvia Nieto and each illustration really works to increase the emotions found in each piece.
What I liked: The two big notes I have written down while reading this collection are, “GRIEF PLAYS A CENTRAL ROLE” and ‘BRUTALLY AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL.” That really sums up the entire batch of poems. These are hard to read, with limited uplifting moments. There are a few, sure, but when I was finished, I was stunned with just how introspective and honest each of the poems were.
The first one, ‘Disclaimer’ really lets the reader know just what they are in for. We then get a one-two punch revolving around acceptance and moving forward with ‘Then’ and ‘Now.’
‘If Only I Knew’ and ‘Origins’ were two moving pieces. Each one dealing with where the narrator of the poems came from as well as looking back on decisions they’ve made through their life.
‘Nobody/Somebody’ was a touching poem. From my interpretation, I felt like it was somebody seeking their soulmate. someone who can complete them and make them happy.
‘David. Me. Why.’ This was a very hard piece to read. I suspect it was based on real events, but even if not, it is a poem that questions life’s moments and why the narrator is where they are versus where they could be.
The highlight for me, though, was ‘Dear Chris.’ This read like an unspoken eulogy. Saying goodbye to somebody in a way they never could when somebody was alive. Touching and devastating all within the grief of knowing you’ll never see them again.
Silvia’s poetry was both accessible yet elevated, introspective but relatable. This was a really nice group of poems that’ll make readers turn over key words and lines repeatedly, knowing that by doing so, you’ll change the meaning of spots throughout.
What I didn’t like: Poetry collections are meant to engage and uplift or cause sadness. So, when an author lays themselves on a page like this, I can’t now sit back and say anything negative about their experiences. This was really well done. If anything, I’d have loved a sentence or two after some of the poems about the author’s inspiration behind the piece, but doing so may affect the readers experience.
Why you should buy this: If you’re looking for a poetry collection that will feel relatable and have some shared life experiences, this fits that bill. Certain moments in each poem made me think of different family members, friends or moments in life. Silvia has a way of making each piece a cathartic experience but also a shared piece with the reader. As though she herself is sitting beside you, reading it aloud.
This was really well done and I can’t recommend this one enough.
Steve Stred | Book Reviewer & HWA Active Member
Stark Naked is exactly that—stark. Naked. The writing is raw in first person, full of scars, bones and tears, but there’s also grit.
With a speculative quotient more in the illustrations by Silvia Nieto (By Silvia Nieto), this chapbook is a visual pilgrimage of reaching, reflecting. A writerly ode that is also a dirge, ventricles of a broken heart.
Silvia Cantón Rondoni makes poignant use of textual pattern in the form of a woman’s body, and a whiteness that is blank and a blackness that’s fully naked. Standouts include ‘Not (A) List’—the grasping of loss, and then worth, and ‘Horror Writer (I Become)’—the macabre inside an unseen brain, but it’s the hand that you notice.
As rocks inside skin pockets bring you down in a clutching that’s also a letting go, Stark Naked offers up a contagious melancholy full of ghosts, and not the kind you might envision.
Eugen Bacon, Reviews Manager | Aurealis Magazine
Silvia Cantón Rondoni's "Stark Naked" is here to remind you that poetry doesn't care about form and metaphors: it cares about expressing feelings as accurately as possible, whether joyful or, in this case, painful. "Stark Naked" isn't a collection of poems, but rather a minutely constructed work, where all parts and pieces connect through the ripping and freeing of the true soul - poetic soul that is, not the religious one. Through poems that are part diary, part reminiscence, part experience-sharing, "Stark Naked" joins the ranks of great docupoets such as the recent Matt Bialer collections, or Cynthia Atkins's. Poetry here isn't used as a lens in through which should peek to see the world, as a direct connection with it. Dealing with trauma, sexuality and non-normative identities, "Stark Naked" is a powerful antidote to bullshit poetry and melodrama kings and queens. Supported by Silvia Neto's brilliant illustrations, "Stark Naked" is a must-read for all interested in testing the limits of poetry - and of the self.
Seb Doubinsky is a bilingual French fiction writer and poet, born in 1963. His novels and poetry collections are published in France, USA and the UK.
"Stark Naked is a brave, bare-to-the-bone journey into the dark by a powerful new voice in Australian poetry."
— Janeen Webb, multiple award-winning author, editor and academic.
"Stark Naked is a powerful poetry collection, written by an author that does not pull punches. Silvia Canton Rondoni slices open her flesh, bares her soul, and dares us to look at the darkness inside. Raw, painful, and filled with emotion; her poems get under your skin and stay there. Highly recommended."
—Owl Goingback, Bram Stoker® Award-winning author of Crota and Coyote Rage.
"Silvia Canton Rondoni's chapbook Stark Naked is an astonishing marriage of poetry and graphic art, for Silvia Nieto's black and white illustrations serve to heighten and harmonize the anger, poignancy, and vulnerability captured by the poet's penetrating, crystal-edge verse."
—Jack Dann, Nebula, World Fantasy, Aurealis and Shirley Jackson award-winning author and editor
"Silvia Canton Rondoni has a real gift for expression. Reading this collection is an intimate experience, as delicate tissues of words form over the wounds left by hatred, fear and love. You are left wanting to hug those closest to you."
—Kyla Lee Ward, writer of speculative fiction, poet and actor, Aurealis Award winner.
"Interwoven with intense body imagery, Silvia Canton Rondoni's bitingly honest Stark Naked poetry collection invites us to 'plunge under her skin', feel her 'tentacles of fear', be infected by her 'deep-bone' grief and witness her struggles against regrets that are 'rocks inside her pockets'. Shunning the ghosts of lost loves, rising above physical disability, family cruelty, social exclusions and ethnic bias, the poet emerges triumphant to 'take pride in her scars'. Beautifully illustrated by Silvia Nieto, this book is an uncompromising probing of personal trauma and deeply lived experience."
— Anne Casey, award-winning Sydney-based poet and writer.
"Silvia Canton Rondoni’s poetry is both accessible yet elevated, introspective but relatable. She has a way of making each piece a cathartic experience but also a shared piece with the reader. As though she herself is sitting beside you, reading it aloud."
— Steve Stred, book reviewer & HWA Active Member
"Deeply personal, revealing. Mapping a journey of being and becoming and all put together in a gorgeous package. This poetry collection deserves far more than just a passing glance."
— Creedy Jack Reviews