Trisia Eddy’s “Edith and Aurelia: A Romantic Tragedy in Five Acts” intrigues you before you even turn the first page. On the cover is a young woman sprawling very un-ladylike in a high back Victorian chair, one leg resting over the arm. Her black thigh-high tights, white garter, black patent shoes, and a white corset are the only things covering her body other than a delicate choker necklace resting on her collarbone. Her dark curly hair is in a fashionable 20’s bob.
This woman, clearly defying any standards of “decency”, brought to my mind a time when women were restricted in areas of all respects: society, education, profession, etc. I was reminded of a time when showing a little bit of your leg was considered risqué. I was reminded of a time when women found that being treated like a lady also meant being treated like a “lady”: someone who was known only by her husband’s name and was meant to be seen, not heard. I was reminded of a time when women started to defy that role in society and started to take risks, to make their impression.
The chapbook of poetry is split into the format of a play: Act I, Scene i, and so on. It is also prefaced with a quote from Macbeth: “These deeds must not be thought/ After these ways; so, it will make us mad” (Act II, Scene ii). This framing of the poetry automatically sets your mind back to a time and place of propriety and richness. This is what you expect upon opening this book of poetry; something along the lines of a Shakespearean play equipped with old English and such. However, Trisia Eddy defies these expectations of times past and drops you into the middle, or the end, of a long life of two women who have been carrying on a romantic relationship.
Edith and Aurelia, the main characters, are past the prime of their lives and are now looking back. Looking back at a time when their bodies were sensual and not stiff with age. You follow along with the characters as they begin in the summer, then on to autumn, and then the winter, before they end at the cusp of spring. You follow them as they move from their home into a nursing home, despite Edith’s distaste of the place. I am still uncertain whether Aurelia moved there as well, as I am also uncertain of the amount of love Aurelia had for Edith. Nevertheless, love is felt and instead of the warm, gushy, romantic thoughts that usually come about at the first utterance of the word “love”, you are met with a sad tale of inescapable time and desires.
Trisia Eddy’s writing is extremely sensory. The entire fifteen pages are packed with succulent images such as: “the deep purple-galaxy of blackberry stain”. She does a marvelous job presenting her story of love and lost time in such a short amount of space. I set the book down feeling sad but happy that I got to be a part of this love affair, or “romantic tragedy”.
The chapbook was printed by Dancing Girl Press, a press dedicated to printing only the work of women poets. This exclusionary act was originally what drew me to their website and I was thrilled to see women writers honored and promoted so enthusiastically. I was further thrilled to find that this chapbook, not only written by a female, was only concerning females. It was an interesting experience, to indulge in this world without male touches.
Edith and Aurelia: A Romantic Tragedy in Five Acts is a recent release by Trisia Eddy from Dancing Girl Press. DGP is a self-proclaimed indie publisher that aims to promote women poets. While browsing their website, the beautifully rendered cover art of this chapbook drew my initial attention; however, it was the excerpt, Act III, Scene i. An excavation site. that held my interest. The thought of prose poetry combined with elements of playwriting intrigued me, and as I sat down to read Edith and Aurelia, I happily found that my expectations were not disappointed.
The style of the chapbook is refreshingly unique: prose poems are titled as though they are parts of a play. The “Romantic Tragedy” of the chapbook is evident through both the inner musings of the characters and the way we view the world through their eyes. The writer seamlessly blends the beauty of all three styles: the simplicity of prose, the delicacy of poetry, and the directness of playwriting are all present throughout. Small snippets and phrases from Shakespeare’s Macbeth float in and out of the pages, adding to the tragic effect of the writer’s own poetry.
An air of nostalgia is present throughout Edith and Aurelia, from its vintage, photographed cover to its poems, which recall memories of childhood and past love. In her chapbook, poet Trisia Eddy avoids the common misstep of viewing the past through rose-colored glasses. Her poems are carefully written to not only convey the sentimental nature of nostalgia, but to also remind us of the pain that stems from old memories, even the happier ones.
“Regret makes no secret of itself, wafts openly through” this chapbook. Edith and Aurelia reads like the retelling of a painful memory, complete with the thoughts that flit in and out of the characters’ heads and the hyper-awareness of the smallest details one feels when the world slows down in these moments. I found it impossible to finish the book without longing for some bygone day – therein lies the beauty of Edith and Aurelia. This chapbook has the power to speak to each reader differently, drawing on past and personal experiences to create a unique read for everyone. Though the plot surrounds two women going through the frustrations of change and goodbyes, its greater themes of nostalgia and regret will easily resonate within anyone.
Edith and Aurelia is available through the DGP Chapbook Series at www.dancinggirlpress.com.