Title: Siarad: Poetry & Prose
Publisher: ES-Press, an imprint of Spineless Wonders
Published: 2020

‘Siarad [sha-rad] is a Welsh word meaning to talk, to speak’ and Caroline Reid’s new collection of prose and poetry is a roar of reassurance; of self-discovery and self-empowerment. The collection makes no attempt to pretend it has all the answers. The narrator admits, rather, their vulnerabilities and shortcomings but is deliberate in the way they unfurl themselves.

There is a knowingness that permeates throughout the collection. There is a strong sense of identity and trust, which adds to the power of Reid’s voice as an author. Stories such as “Satisified” lend itself to this realisation of power. As the story’s protagonist, Carah, begins to understand her husband’s fetishising behaviours as the result of childhood trauma (bubble wrap), she liberates herself from the marriage, from her shared business with said former partner, and summons a magic that turns herself into an alley cat. Yes—the collection is spliced with the absurd and quirky. But the alley cat represents a token of freedom otherwise stolen from women in loveless marriages (and society in general).

The breadth of emotion and themes that emerge and re-emerge are vast. They sink into valleys of loneliness and despair as Reid touches upon the devastation of dementia. In her poem “600 000”, the audience is granted an uncensored insight into the inadequacies of Australia’s Aged Care laws. It is estimated that 600 000 Australians will be living with some form of dementia by 2031, and Reid predicts that if things don’t change, health care in Australia will fail a lot of patients and their families.

Familial relationships feature often throughout Siarad. Understandably, the poems are an ode to their complexities. Naturally there will always be unkind words and action, but the love present in the collection is real; albeit more muddy than pure, but undeniably real. Particularly in poems such as “Sister” and “Something strange is going on inside the sun”,

…but I am singing them back in this poem
And you can call it selfish
But I am singing them back because I need to remember
Who we are in this strangeness we’ve become
And so I sing.

What is so remarkable about Siarad is the fullness of the voice. There is a tangible sense of trust in oneself throughout the entire collection. And there is a real power in being able to trust your own voice to simply speak—and I imagine it took an entire lifetime to learn how to do so. Siarad is evocative, thought-provoking and funny. Who knew the same text could feature love, life, loss, and Donald Sutherland? Congratulations, Caroline Reid.

Siarad is now available in audiobook format and you can listen to Caroline perform her work! Click HERE to get your copy.

Underground Team

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