Candice-Louisa Daquin

Shweta Rao Garg

Tainted by the Same Counterfeit: Candice Louisa Daquin, reviewed by Shweta Rao Garg

Tainted by the Same Counterfeit by Candice Louisa Daquin
Finishing Line Press, Georgetown, Kentucky, 2022
ISBN – 978-1-64662-972-5

Tainted by the Same Counterfeit is a ravishing book to read and behold. Candice Louisa Daquin is able to bring her experience as an editor along with a unique perspective as a poet in this volume. Daquin is a widely published poet; the current volume is her fourth poetry collection. The poems are all tinted, ever so slightly, with a tinge of melancholy and lit by a rare verbal acuity. With 73 verses of varying length, the book offers the promise of engaged readings over many late evenings. The diaphanous nature of the poems is highlighted by the visual motifs of moths fluttering between pages. The fragility of the body, ageing, sickness and convalescence, and love and queerness are some themes that the collection touches upon.
The persona pretends to be better/happier than she is, the couple portrays to be functional, and people enact differently than they are. People, at large, seem to be complicit with the façade. Daquin’s astute observation catches the fact that things seem to be tainted by the same counterfeit.
In my initial readings, I sensed that Daquin writes in different tones. There is a deeply personal, confessional tone, like in “The Opal” or “Only a glove”. Many poems are direct addresses to a lover or are addressed by the lover. Some are clarion calls to set each other free, indicating the communal intimacy between women, as in “That we were clay”. She invokes like-minded readers in “We, made of paper” with these memorable opening lines,
made of paper
write our words
in careful ink
watching how
underside bleeds
Some poems function as social commentary, and Daquin plays the role of an activist. She is enraged and hurt by the injustice around her. The empath in her comes out in poems like “The memory of clothes”, “Hymen”, “The Pitbull & the girl”, “Renesha McBride”, etc.
Queerness is something she expresses as she experiences it in quite a few poems. Some of her poems border on the fantastical and brings home the truth of her persona’s experiences as a lesbian woman. In “Pretending to stand still”, she is asked to correct her posture; walk straight. She responds,
I need to walk on all fours
and pretend to be a lion
he wrote me a script-
for fierceness
I handed it in to the pharmacist…
Body and desire are contested terrains for Daquin. Pain and impossibility of love are persistent shadows in her poetic expressions. “Falling into sync” and “Is it you?” is about the lover nursing the persona through sickness. If love nurtures selflessly, it may also test her, so much so that she has to outline her selfhood, upholding some boundaries in “Nourishment”:
I am a light-footed girl
born in helium
it is not my path
to be shackled
by spirit & lead road
The energy and playfulness of the very first homosexual experience of a bi-curious person is rife in “Common Denominator”, where the persona lifts her lover “out/ of her little mold/ and made her cry out/ like she was a new-born”. The tender proclamation of desire is beautifully woven in “The unseen world.”
My artichoke girl, wreathed in wild flowers, your body a temple for this
supplicant, as light diminishes, your thirsty form grows spectral, a mango tree
heavy in fruiting

The love poems by Daquin are endearing and, needless to say, they transcend beyond the body, though anchored in it with deliberation. Poetry (and love) is compared, quite seductively, with the chemistry of metals in “Metallurgical”. However, it ends with a sharp sting:
I’d dress in nails for you
go on, just test
my metal.
There is a lurking presence of pain in the volume, as exemplified in “New Hampshire”;
pain is a worn demon
sitting down for dinner
we eat
in formation
saving knife for last

There is the unfortunate but inescapable bodily hurt that Daquin writes about, which is probably derived from her own sickness. Furthermore, the pain is also inflicted by the insensitivity of the world around her. In “Let go and take flight”, when affronted by a man who declares he would have dated her 20 years ago, she responds to the ageist remark that there are “numbers for when you can’t and when you can:/ 18 you can show me your tits/ 40 I don’t want to see them”. She responds to ageism, sexism and homophobia relentlessly. She addresses her frustration at being ignored by the heteronormative society in “Amulet”:
No they didn’t write poems about you and they didn’t write poems about me
they didn’t write poems about us
we were a label, a provocation, pornography

Her persona doesn’t hold her high moral ground like a martyr; she also shares her vulnerability and imperfections. Resilience always to comes to her with wounds; Daquin’s poems make no bones about the fact. It is this authenticity that makes this poetry collection so gratifying to read.
You can tell that the poet has worked on the craft to the extent of keeping the spontaneity of her vision intact. There is an inherent sense of music in Daquin’s lines. If some poems are economical with one-word lines, others spread across the landscape of the page. The effect is that of contained chaos. She seems to be effortless with rhythm and rhyme. Her poems resound with music, sometimes, to a fault, like the alliteration in “Pirate Radio”, “Cinereal clouds pierce Cimmerian dusk/ your fingers fastening in my hair.” But in almost every poem, the music is drawn out organically.
Another stylistic feature I noticed in the poet is that she doesn’t always wait for the last lines for the grand finale, the great finishing idea. She inundates her poems with lines that make you pause before you read further, sometimes much before the conclusive stanza.
Through her use of imagery, Daquin manages to shake up the reader, if not shock them with regularity. Sometimes their profundity and sometimes, their novelty stir the reader. Despite the tonal shifts and thematic range of the poems, there is something which is Daquinesque about the verses. A distinct way of looking, feeling and expressing makes her poems a treat to read. Her voice is well-formed, and her observation adds an overlooked fact or an image that enhances the reader’s understanding of the world. She brings her being into her writing. Her training in psychotherapy and her life experiences and convictions shape her poetry. Tainted by the Same Counterfeit is a significant poetry collection of our times because it proudly upholds queer feminist politics and is shaped by an aesthetic that goes beyond identities.


Candice Louisa Daquin is Senior Editor at Indie Blu( e) Publishing and a psychotherapist. Her sagacious love of language and emotion, remain her testimony of survival. As a queer woman of mixed ethnicity and passionate feminist beliefs concerning equality, Daquin's poetry stands as her body of evidence.

Shweta Rao Garg is a poet, visual artist, and academic based in Baltimore, US. Her poetry collection, Of Goddesses and Women, was published by Sahitya Akademi in 2021. Her poems have been published in Indian Literature, Coldnoon, Everyday Poems, Postcolonial Text, Transnational Literature, Muse India etc. She is the author of the graphic novel The Tales from Campus: A Misguide to College, to be published by Crossed Arrows, India. Her collaborative poetry collection Shakespeare Walis: Verses on the Bard will be published by Flower Song Press in 2023. Her work deals with her lived experiences as a woman. Mythology, popular culture, and love are recurring themes in her work. Her artwork can be found at