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The Macabre Modern cover image

The Macabre Modern

and Other Morbidities

by Kyla Lee Ward

156 pages
Trade Paperback

PRICE: $16.00 AUD


A contemporary re-envisioning of the medieval “The Dance of Death” theme (fourteenth-century), written for the twenty-first century onward. Fantastic, imaginative poetry written and illustrated by award-winning poet, author, artist, playwright, performer Kyla Lee Ward. Her poem “Revenants of the Antipodes” (in this collection) won the AHWA Australian Shadows Award for poetry 2018. ... [Read more]

Book Catalogue

The Land of Bad Dreams cover image)

The Land of Bad Dreams

Kyla Lee Ward

Item type: Collection
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 142
ISBN: 9780980462579

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The Land of Bad Dreams - second printing - $16.00 (AUDAustralian Dollars (AUD))

Kyla Lee Ward is a darkly shining poetic talent of Australia. Her sweep is the scythe of dream. The Land of Bad Dreams propels readers towards old and new vistas of pandemonium, whilst pendulums of age-old human fears and terrors swing creaking in the balance. Who dares fight them with her?


by Kyla Lee Ward

by Charles "Danny" Lovecraft


In The Land of Bad Dreams, Kyla Ward offers up a rich, eccentric miscellany of dark music, skilfully crafted and strangely wrought.

Ann Schwader

Nocturnal, toothy, grisly and witty ... a carnival of life's cruel and grotesque side, with much pageant and dark laughter.

K. J.  Bishop

The poetry of Kyla Ward is, much like its author, dark, intricate, and intelligent. A whisper of decadence, a hint of decay, and men and women wrapped in the linen of both.

Ben Peek

Kyla has real presence “live” as she has too in these poems. There is a transfixing quality and a warning: “mind how you approach.”

Danny Gardner

Ward is a born poet, and knows what she is about in her work, which does, indeed, weave its own potent and subtle magics.

Michael Fantina

In The Land of Bad Dreams, one navigates by the lantern light of a goblin moon. It is a strange, dark region of the psyche where demons dwell.

Wade German

Delicious antiquity and delirious archaism mix and mingle in Kyla Ward's verse. With a true poet's sense of language she teases and tantalises the senses.

Leigh Blackmore

Terror and the beauty it can evoke: that's what I expect from poetry like this – and that is what The Land of Bad Dreams gave me. This is a collection that should be welcomed.

Robert Hood

I don't know much about poetry. Not as much as I should. But the machineries at work beneath it are a bit of a mystery to me. So, how lovely to enjoy Kyla Ward's new collection, Land of Bad Dreams. I don't know poetry, rhymes and scansion and that sort of are thing outside my experience. But a turn of phrase you could flense with, a delicious image, a sense of humor that wears a black hood, those are things I understand. A cryptic delight, aching with an antiquarian's eye for those of you who like things with a nighttime gleaming, you would enjoy it. This month, don't buy that novel with the guy with the laser beam on the cover. Leave that story about a plucky supernatural-puncher in love with a penanggallan for another day. Track down Kyla's book and give it a read.

Christian Read


     Acolyte Charles Lovecraft's P'rea Press has produced a beautiful first poetry collection for Australian writer Kyla Lee Ward (b. 1969). Embellished not only with an interview and a bibliography, The Land of Bad Dreams is also enriched with the author's own artwork (including the cover illustration), an appreciative introduction by the publisher, and two pages of insightful appraisals by fellow authors.

     Kyla, whose photograph on the back cover displays a waspish figure in dark dress, is a multi-talented author, having already to her credit (as “Edwina Grey”) co-authorship of the award-winning novel Prismatic (2007). In addition to her writing, she is also an artist, game designer, and actress in a Grand Guignol theater company.

     I have not had the good fortune to hear the author read her poetry, but publisher Charles Lovecraft comments fairly extensively on the rhythm and other technical features of her verse. Of the poems in Part I (“Dreams”) of her collection, I think I like best “The Torturer's Confession,” a remarkable poetical reflection of human cruelty. Part II follows with some delicately-crafted “Fables” in prose which reflect the author's deep ponderings on what I shall call creatureliness. In Part III (“Biohazard”) I think I like best “Vespers,” which Kyla has dedicated to her partner David. She writes:

Blest be he who shuts my eyes

and who would place his hands on me.

     In a collection focused on the horrific, it is fine to find a poem dedicated to the wonder of love, and to ponder the poet's reflection that mutual corporality is as miraculous to one partner as to the other. Kyla depicts herself among the tombs in her cover artwork, but I think I like better “Adoration,” which appears on the page facing “Vespers.” Here the lover faces the light in all her magnificence.

     A glorious extended narrative poem “The Feast of Mistrust” forms the concluding Part IV of the collection, in four parts. We meet Lady Webbe, Doctor Wulf and Bishop in this narrative of the immemorial feast held in an ancient city. Few poets attempt such an exercise in storytelling in verse today; Kyla's poem put me in mind of Lovecraft's “Psychopompos.”

     As we approach the 250th anniversary of the birth of Ann Radcliffe in 2014, it is useful to reflect how greatly the female sex has contributed to gothic sensibility over the past quarter millennium. We will always be in the debt of creators like Ann Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, and Kyla Lee Ward—to name only a few—for enriching the gothic domain with creations of particular female sensibility.

     I certainly congratulate Acolyte Charles Lovecraft's P'rea Press for following in the footsteps of August Derleth at Arkham House and Steve Sneyd at Hill-Top Press in publishing darkly fantastic poetry. After publishing poetry by Leigh Blackmore and Richard L. Tierney, he has chosen another notable title with this collection by Kyla Lee Ward. (A critical study of weird poetry by S. T. Joshi has also been among the offerings of his press.) I hope Kyla will have many more collections of poetry to her credit by the time she finishes her writing career. I will probably long have returned to dust by that time, but I count myself fortunate to have lived to enjoy the work of female gothicists of a younger generation like Chicago's own Michaela Petro and Australia’s Kyla Lee Ward.

Kenneth Faig, Jr

And from Sheila Merritt this link takes you to her splendid review: