REVIEW: Jade Sylvan’s Kissing Oscar Wilde (2013)

Kissing Oscar Wilde: A Love Story In The City of Light Jade Sylvan
Write Bloody Publishing, 2013

Jade Sylvan’s recent book is anything but average. Kissing Oscar Wilde is a more bildungsroman, a chronological narrative in prose poetry and poetic prose, a memoir of the author’s trip to Paris on a book tour in 2010, when she was 29 years old. At times poignant, at times irritating, and often very good, Kissing Oscar Wilde offers moments of clarity and great insight as well as some navel-gazing.

The title poem, which perfectly captures the strange self-conscious age between adolescent and adulthood, is full of lovely angst-ridden lines, such as “You say he will be mourned by outcasts, and outcasts always mourn,” and “I worry I’ve outlived / the romantics.” Sylvan may use clichés, but here they serve as reminders, that clichés are clichés because they are so often true. Perhaps the collection’s strongest poem is “On Breathing,” wherein Sylvan uses rhyming couplets effect a kind of clever, snappy darkness: “When you learn that most of what you’ve read and studied for in school/is a crude approximation or shrewd merchandizing tool,/and your lungs will one day shrivel, and your heart will fizzle out/when tricks of science peter and religion’s sick with doubt.”

Ultimately,Sylvan’s awareness of her own self-indulgence is one of her charms, and not all love stories end with a kiss. This is the true love story of the book, a tale of the love between an artist and her work.