In this fourth major poetry collection, Claire Gaskin re-envisions the myth of Antigone by focusing on her sister Ismene. Assuming the voice of a contemporary Ismene, she asks us to consider what survivable resistance might look like for those who live on after tragedy? What kind of avenues are available to resist autocratic and patriarchal structures of power? How might we imagine a future that is different to our past and instigate real change at both a personal and public level?
Antigone is the emblematic heroic female who rejects structures of authority that would silence her. In Ismene’s Survivable Resistance, Claire Gaskin focuses on Antigone’s sister and what it means to live on in the face of trauma. Poetry, as her new collection powerfully demonstrates, provides an alternative means to exist in the present state. At once clarion call and nuanced testing of the limits of language, Ismene’s Survivable Resistance reworks the boundaries between the personal and the public. Its poems explore a claiming of self that challenges social containment, building new configurations of knowledge, creativity, and presence. To read Ismene’s Survivable Resistance is to feel the world and its histories anew but also, importantly, to begin the work of tomorrow.
— Ann Vickery
This fearless, fearful book reanimates Ismene, Antigone’s unheard surviving sister, in the name of the abused: ‘everyone dead or worse not dead’. Through embodied poesis, Ismene/Gaskin forensically uncovers ‘the bone on bone of marginalia/ where thought meets movement’, guiding us from ‘cross hatched early life’ through ‘a life time of refusal’ to arrive at ‘a sense of a living self’, ‘not either side but in-between’. Testament to the power of working through trauma in poetic form, of sustained writing-reading-listening, Ismene’s Survivable Resistance invites us into a ‘space for exchange’, ‘both all nothing neither’, on her own authority: ‘I open the curtains to the forgiving page’, ‘the fourth wall dismantled’.
— Kate Lilley