Purely Phenomenal. Purely Philomena.
... Reading this book institutionalized my eyes. Bemused by van Rijswijk's poems, I imagined a series of photogravures of the corpses, black birds, dying swan, spoiled bread, and wounded wombs against the polaroids of the flowers, lazy mornings, lips, fingertips, the sailor, a mother, and a coffee cup.
The surprisingly dark qualities of van Rijswijk's poetic expression and her brutal take on the theme of suffering and death are not stagnant and breathless. Rather, she is a poet who deconstructs the imagery of death:
that even death has to die;
that death, after all, is not death in itself;
that death cannot hang around the kitchen
or else it will be cooked.
Through a highly texturized composition, van Rijswijk's poetry has no traces of lexical loitering and aesthetic voyeurism. Each poem incarnates a raw-meat vision that is not poised yet focused; a magnified memory that is not tangible yet solid.
Without a doubt, Philomena van Rijswijk is a poet, an artist who has a profound understanding of language. Language as a human being-complete and completing. Language as a woman, a mother who doesn't stop being a mother after giving birth. Language, not merely as a tool or means, but also a fruition, an actuality yet imprisoned by the contrasting realities of life.
The emancipation of language is greatly achieved, if not painstakingly, by the gradual moulting of the penumbra of human experience. And it is every artist's vocation to translate human experience into a transfigured humanity. In experiencing art, when a person forgets the images, words, forms, and sounds (how they breathe, and how they move), one comes closely to that which is divine. In truth, Bread of the Lost reveals the poet's truest self and her arrival to the purest creation and we partake of that one bread.