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Muse

ISBN: 978-1-926639-64-2

Trade paperback, Tightrope Books 2013

Price: $16.95

Muse explores the concepts of influence, creativity, and gender by evoking the tragic figure of Elizabeth Siddal. As a model, then pupil, she married the Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and although an artist and poet in her own right, Siddal is best known as a Victorian muse and the inspiration for her husband’s paintings. In sensual and evocative language, Kresan holds nothing back, shifting voices and perspectives, and encompassing a wide range of emotions—from Siddal’s loss and heartbreak over her stillborn daughter to the poet’s lighthearted reproach of Hunt’s depiction of The Lady of Shalott. Compelling and inventive, Muse is a welcome debut.

"In her subtle and quietly insistent re-telling of the story of Elizabeth Siddal, Dawn Marie Kresan turns Robert Graves’ well-known words – “Woman is muse or she is nothing” – inside out and upside down. If Siddal has been seen as a Victorian supermodel, all surface and beauty, then Kresan complicates the perceptions, painting over pre-conceived notions, and refocusing attentions. When it is clear that Siddal has become a kind of muse to the poet, the reader is reminded that any sort of poetic treatment likely says more about the writer than the subject she re-envisions. Wryly questioning her own poetic authority, Kresan treats the reader to versions of Siddal and takes us on delightfully imaginative flights of fancy where her subject interacts with Marilyn Monroe, Sylvia Plath, Robert Graves and even the author herself."

—Shawna Lemay, Winner of the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry.


"An absolute delight to lovers of ekphrasis, the pre-Raphaelites, and those interested in reclaiming the historical lives of often self-doubting, self-sacrificing and side-lined women. These voluptuous poems hum with invention, wit, and spot-on imagery, announcing the arrival of an accomplished poet."

—Ruth Roach Pierson, Governor General’s Literary Award Finalist in Poetry.


"In her ambitious debut, Dawn Kresan turns a feminist legend inside out with ventriloquizing poems that voice Elizabeth Siddal’s anxieties and griefs so fiercely she seems to be writing for her own life." 

—Carmine Starnino, Governor General’s Literary Award Finalist in Poetry and Winner of the Canadian Authors Associate Prize for Poetry.