About three weeks ago, a poet on Instagram found out about my poetry book, contacted me, and asked to meet in a café. That is the first thing I noticed about Christina Strigas, the poet in question: how comfortable she is to DM a stranger. It struck me, as someone who has sometimes great difficulty to share her work online and even greater difficulty to promote my book, that another poet would be interested in my book. That alone made me admire and respect Strigas from the first second of our encounter. I mean, who has nowadays the guts to reach out to people, to share talent, and to pour out their soul online for everyone to read it? A whole lot of us, of course. However, the majority of this whole-lot-of-us, so-called poets or writers, write the same quotes repeatedly and have the nerve to call this annoying and atrocious piece of “art” a “poem” or “prose”. Nevertheless, Christina Strigas is different. She is an incredibly inspiring and youthful woman. Her personality radiates a humbling and positive energy. She is the kind of woman a 20 year-old would like to become in the future: confident, thick-skinned, and young at heart. At now 48, Strigas, who studied in literature at Concordia University, has now three novels (a trilogy), and three poetry books under her belt, including Your Ink On My Soul, and the newest one Love & Vodka. She is the proof that you can make your dreams come true anytime, but only if you have the passion, the courage, and the will to do it.
It was the first time for me to read a chapbook per se. I indeed thought Your Ink On My Soul would be a very short read, yet to my surprise, Strigas doesn’t hold back and shares longs poems and prose (mostly about love) that all end with what we would call in French, for short stories, une chute (punchline). Each ending left me breathless and reflective for days. One of Strigas’s strengths is the way she refers famous authors: those literary references become hers, as though she met, in another life, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Virginia Woolf. The poet knows her stuff and isn’t afraid to show it. Strigas’s chapbook was simple, yet so refreshing, it felt good to read a work that pushes boundaries in an era that praises repetitive, impersonal, and ridiculous cheesiness and that unfortunately skips true talent. For a writer who was affected by the blank page syndrome for a couple of days, Your Ink On My Soul inspired me to consistently write more without despair. It pushed me to get out of my shell and experiment new styles of writing. For example, Strigas plays a lot with punctuation and verse structure.
If I had to choose my favourite poems – which is quite difficult considering the masterpiece Your Ink On My Soul is – I would go with “1973,” “Waves,” “Writing,” and “What if?” “1973,” a nostalgic piece, was probably my coup de coeur. This poem perfectly presents how Strigas’s writing is very visual: “[…] watching how the Mediterranean sun plays golden tricks / on my mother’s short 70’s crew cut.” Here are other favourite verses of mine from poems other than the ones just listed.
“in a few hours / by the mountain / watch mother earth / perform miracles. / yes” – from Yes.
“I’m an artist and he supports my locked up frustrations.” (if you’re an artist and are in love, you will get this instantly) – from Sixteen
“When I heard those songs / I thought how they were written / for us / and crying and driving / instead of texting and driving is safer.” – from Silence.
“[…] the kids want vanilla bean drinks / from Second Cup / and I want to avoid every single / person I know.” (this is when I say Strigas doesn’t hold back, the definition of “real”) – from Dimples.
“[…] and you simply took my hands / as if it was an extension of yours.” – from Contemporary Verse.
I don’t think I should write a conclusion to paragraph to convince you to read Christina Strigas’s chapbook. I personally can’t wait to read Love & Vodka, a collection of poems that seem more “punching” than in Your Ink On My Soul. Follow the Montreal poet on Instagram and Twitter to read more of her works and to know more about her. Don’t forget to also check out her website. Check out her books here.
PS – Note to Christina: Thank you for your review of my book HoneyFace, Hers Truly. It truly touched me, and motivated to continue pursuing my dreams. Cheers and success to you, you deserve the best!