Clasping a fistful of balloons, a girl floats upward.
“It’s like rising. I am rising out of the ashes,” explains Bowen poet Jude Neale, examining the cover of her sixth collection of poems, A Blooming (Ekstasis Editions), one of two books she published this spring.
Jude says that the collection of 46 poems is all about relationships.
The series of image-based works starts with an erotic poem (the eponymous “A Blooming”) and concludes with Jude writing about her daughter now being a mother (“In the End”).
Everything in between is a raw expression of elements of Jude’s life.
“These poems tell of yearning, reconciliation, tender acts, harsh truths and they all become a reflection of the incredibly complex cycle we call life,” Jude writes in the introduction.
“Almost everything is about somebody I am in a relationship with, closely,” says Jude. “And so there’s sadness, there’s a lot of sadness, there’s joy and there’s fear.”
Jude says that she tries to make her poems accessible to everyone, even people (like the Undercurrent editor) who don’t read much poetry.
“It’s revealing and authentic. And I think everyone will connect to at least one poem in the book,” says Jude. “I promise.”
The second book, her seventh, We Sing Ourselves Back, is a chronological collection of Jude’s poems published by David Fraser of Ascent Aspirations between 2008 and 2019.
“You can see my change as an author,” says Jude. The collection includes her first published poem, “Come Back Serengeti.”
Jude compiled the book on the occasion of Fraser’s retirement, dedicated the collection to him, and is donating her profits from the book to literacy in Fraser’s hometown of Nanaimo.
And as for the future, Jude isn’t slowing down.
Next summer Jude will be doing a residency at Joy Kogawa House in Vancouver.
In the meantime, if you see Jude with a phone in hand (from which she’s crafted her last five books), she might just be writing her next poem.