Annabella of Ely: Poems I-LXVII. Foreword by Liesl Ketum. ISBN-10: 0692709576. ISBN-13: 978-069270957338pp. gnOme, 2016. $7.00.
Long thought to have been inadvertently thrown on her funeral pyre, this recently discovered text tells the story of Annabella of Ely’s spiritual transformation. In a series of seventy-seven short, distinctive poems, Annabella describes the heights and deep abysses of her mystical journey, one marked by suffering, bliss, and most importantly, Love.
“Annabella of Ely is a miracle. She takes me aside from the multitude. She places her fingers in my ears. She spits and touches my tongue. She looks up to heaven and sighs. She says, ‘be opened.’” – Nicola Masciandaro
“These endeared utterances invoke the poetic abyss of Hadewijch, of Mechthild of Magdeburg, of Lydwina of Schiedam, of a distant and necrophiliac mysticism stumbling higher and higher, ensuring the oblivion of its author.”
~ Rasu-Yong Tugen, Baroness de Tristeombre, author of Songs From The Black Moon
“While little is known of Annabella of Ely, the poetic fragments herein—documenting her physical decline and spiritual ascent—bear the same elements of marked religiosity, mysticism, histrionic behaviour, and annihilative bliss we find in hagiographical accounts of Lydwina of Schiedam. But in the absence of a comparative oeuvre (Lydwina wasn’t partial to poetic experiment), the verses themselves—both in their bewildering brevity and in the stylistic decisiveness with which they ‘chime’ out of a state of extreme anguish—evoke those of another figure, who, in the summer of 1944, was oscillating between convalescence and vigor: Georges Bataille. In Annabella’s feverous writing, in the visceral manner she maps her self-naughting, and in the poetic invectives that quite literally spew from her lips, we are reminded of that life lived at the limit of the impossible: ‘sickness the death of the world / I am the sickness / I am the death of the world.’” – Edia Connole