a BlazeVOX ebook

Reviewed by Rachel Kendall

'Part of me expected horror. Part of me.'

Cook's poetry has never failed to deliver and this collection is no exception. Here we have neonate, umbilicus and placenta all cooked up and served with relish. A pretty platter of poisoned sweetmeats.
        There are a lot of poems here. Some I've read before, a couple have been published in Sein und Werden, but most are new to me. It's highly organized; the contents arranged under the headings 'heat me up', 'cool me down', 'consume me' and 'choke on me'. Food has always played a large role in Cook's poetry. Rarely as nourishment. Candy as a treat for good behaviour and as a lure into the witch's oven in the gingerbread house. Food is controlling and controlled. It is vomit-making and poison-laced. Food is the driving force behind many fairytales, and has made its way into a number of excellent poetry titles in this collection, including 'When Flesh Equalled Rotten Peach', 'Nori, Shiny Side Down' and 'The Party Cheese Ball Mocks You'. In Cook's world, the most delicious-looking cake can hide a deadly weapon. Like a little kitty with extended claws. Like a butter-wouldn't-melt girl who knows exactly how to get her way.

The first poem in the collection is 'Morning Fragment'. Breakfast. First meal of the day. It is short, and an excellent introduction to an egg theme that appears over and over as the egg, rather than the fairytale apple, holds the secrets - of food, of ovulation and fertility, of embryos and eyes,
'The eggs are bloodshot' in a Bataille-esque marriage of sensuality and repulsion. Here is the slimy process of eating oneself, the unborn, the miscarried, the menses…

'… Someone's misshapen stray
…pins and needles puncture all the yolks you've been preserving
in protective sacs and there's just so much unruly blood,
you tell yourself it's all just Fancy Ketchup, but
your wrists are catching on the serrated edges
of the small plastic packets and you can't contain it.'

(Egg Whites)

Cook's poetry is angry. It is bitter. It hinges on a girl caught between Peter Pan and Wendy. She knows the value of her sex all too well but refuses to take it a stage further into motherhood. She would like to remain inside the cocoon of pre-maturity, playing school-girl pranks

'We're curvy in other ways. We're scurvy in other ways.
We've devised so many other games for protractors and sharpies'

(Blood Pudding)

with her slightly evil, slightly twisted school friends:

'girls with rice pudding
in medicine droppers
a baby bunny's throat wired open'


'…We are a creep
y scene of enjambment. A googly-eyed, gooey-haired monster-nymph
wriggling out of clammy wells and through foetid walls.
A dress so sodden, tattered, tainted with horrid porridge stains.'

(Blood Pudding)

wishing for super powers, for sex appeal, wondering where it all went wrong:

'...You wonder when turned into one of those interchangeable matrons
in a cleaning product commercial. Shapeless hair, dowdy underwear,
a plugged-in plastic air freshener discharging its automated spurts
of generic perfume.'

(The Party Cheese Ball Mocks You)

Here is the monstrous feminine, rather than the perfectly manicured, fake tan, fake hair, fake breasts brigade:

'Wobbly high heels jammed onto skewed digits
like jellied pigs' feet seeping from hacked decapitation.

(Frankenstein Crowned Miss South Dakota)
[Probably my favourite line of all the poems in this collection - ed]

and at the root of all this, the ultimate monstrous feminine - the mother figure. This is a subject Cook toys with on a very powerful level. ('My mother beats me in the egg case gulag.' from Glass Cake Plate)
And from 'She Warns Me', which has to be one of the best poems I've ever read, with it's multilayered play on words and meaning. It's a horror film, a nightmare

'Her head overripe with nightmares like rotten pumpkin guts;'
'From the filthy darkness underneath a dusty rose bed,
Mother hisses'

(She Warns Me)

I could go on and on about Cook's use of colour (the reds, blues and violets), her love of words (for instance, flibbertigibbets, hellgrammite, Chokecherry), the filthy, sordid disease-ridden girls ('crusty stitches, shameful glints, the dirty little secret of your bed pan' from When Flesh Equalled Rotten Peach) but I don't want to give too much away. I could write a book on Cook's poetry, on its undertones and overtones, its high-definition sensuality and her ingenious marriage of words to form a gelatinous layer of text

'…Warm butter
will slather out the teats.'


But I won't. Yet. What I will do is leave you with the poet's list of inspirations which can be found at the back of the collection.

Raggedy Ann and other dolls, manikins, gingerbread girls & other baked goods
& foodstuffs, poison, stingers, killers, pastel cupcake papers, product wrappers, expiration dates, playgrounds, childhood toys, childhood Catholicism & pro-life propaganda, my mom's gruesome cautionary tales, bad dreams, fear, hospitals, sickness, disease, death, abortion, cosmetic surgery, fairy tale heroines & anti-heroines, The White Witch of Narnia, owl pellets, sea creatures, mutants, misfits, dopplegangers, sideshows, the birds & the bees, the pussies, the bloody eggs, the railroad track debris, feminism, postmodernism, contemporary poetry, contemporary womanhood, (anti)consumption, (anti)edibility, (anti)palatability, anti vanilla snack pack pudding, not fitting in, not being good enough, resisting the never ending doll injection mold assembly line.

To read/download the collection itself for free (and I INSIST that you do) you can find it here:

Or to buy the chapbook visit Cook's etsy shop:
Now available to buy as a chapbook from Cook's Etsy Shop.

"However, for the paper and print and book as artifact fetishists amongst us, who like to hold and caress and turn pages as they read, a VERY SMALL print run of Horrific Confection is now available. The author would even be delighted to sign your copy, if you ask nicely.

It is sleek, it is shiny, it has a darkly delectable cover designed by artist Christen Baer and the innards are awfully succulent."