Review: Wide Open by Amy Bodossian

The ‘aperture’ of an ‘OCDiva’s’ ’appetite’ by Hamish Danks Brown

“Beauty beheld in solitude is even more lethal.” Witold Gombrowicz, Ferdydurke

(Poland/Argentina/France 1904-69)

In mid-December 2016, Amy Bodossian launched her debut collection wide open in the standing room confines of Ferdydurke, a venue located above Tattersalls Lane in the CBD.

It’s a slim ninety-page volume containing two dozen poems, plus illustrations by an Adelaide-born cabaret performer who usurps any stage with such panache escalating to frenzy that I’ve christened her ‘OCDiva’!

The poems hone in on personal matters: the author’s body, mind and soul; the whenever, wherever, with whoever that all comes with outbreaks of love and influxes of sex. This book is not for the prurient and prudish among us. It is intended for a ‘wide open’ readership in print and for a like-minded audience with similar gaping predilections shown when the ‘OCDiva’ herself is on stage.

The overriding theme of this book is that adults are overgrown kids dealing with the alternative facts and fantasies of love lives  and that none of us are getting any younger though we can tweak time and play depending on whose place we’re at, through the detouring routes of our boudoir behaviour patterns.

This collection goes full-cycle from a juvenile tryst in ‘Remember that Sunday Afternoon’, to a reflective ‘Reprise’ via a poetic cycle of remembered episodes and personal encounters such as ‘First Date’, ‘Coat Hanger Eyes’, ‘Summer Love’, ‘Phone Sex’ and ‘Over’:

I’m not into dominating / but I do like masturbating / over the thought of you telling me things / you’d never tell anyone else, / how you say you’d like to be punished / which I’m not really into, but I do get wet / over your wounded, heavy breaths / your embarrassment at all this / your release is a gift / because I know you’re so terrified

— ‘Phone Sex’

The language of her poems interweaves desire and distance, amour and animosity, rancour and randiness, feelings, fumblings and fuckings in her in-and-outlooks of one woman’s give-and-take-it-all when about love affairs.

Hormones are already close to hand when reading Amy Bodossian’s work generally, and become a heady entourage accompanying her performance in private perceptions between lines that are fully expressed with gestural gusto, healthy hindsight, and a comedic, self-deprecating flair when she vigorously performs.

But so what! so somewhere now / in the underworld / we are making love / and our souls swirl / and our flesh writhes with the worms / and we burn and we burn / yes out there in galaxies / we burn, you and me / in unison, you and me / in galaxies, you and me / but right here, right now / / we are not meant to be.

— ‘Over’

Amy Bodossian has delivered a poetry collection that is as carnal and casual as it is tender and touching. She has the ability to balance heartache and humour, copulation and contemplation in a taut turn of phrase on the page or with the ad-libbing and gurning of a ‘feminilhist’ at large on the stage.

Entertaining? YES! Enlightening? Even when it’s dark. Very wide open to the poetic powers of suggestion after all.

“Many a beauty in her own room behaves repulsively until one splits one’s sides.” – Witold Gombrowicz, Ferdydurke.

Amy Bodossian’s Wide Open can be purchased from the Melbourne Spoken Word Online Shop.

Hamish Danks Brown