Review by: Moira Richards


Bitter Kisses
By Wendy Iliff
Published by Vane Women Press

Vane Women is a writers' collective that promotes womens' writing and performance art in North East England. These women celebrate the power and the fun of words -- even their name plays with meaning! Vane Women Press was established in 1993 and it published, five years later, Wendy Iliff's first collection of poems Bitter Kisses.

Bitter Kisses is covered with a hot pink design of luscious fruit and seductive womanhood, and it is filled with thirty or so delicious poems that subvert, yet do not deny, this and other conventional images of Woman.

There are poems about women who relish the men they desire:

my lips are bruised plums
from your
bitter chocolate kisses
(from "Coming Into Season" page 5).

There are poems about women who discard the cheating husband that they can no longer trust:

Have him, no contest, I am the winner,
I am the freed one, you'll be the captive,
(from "A Warning Sonnet" page 26).

And there are poems about women who have plenty else on their minds than to have to be a-thinking about men:

I feel the soft skin
of my daughter's face
against my cheek
(from "Embers" page 30)

Wendy Iliff is a performance poet and it is easy to visualise the power with which these poems of hers can translate into performance. Get a taste of some more of her poetry on the Vane Women Word Web at Also there, are purchase details, excerpts from the poetry of other of the poets published by Vane Women Press, and news about the doings of the collective.

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