Aug 6, 2014
This week's Snapshots focus on books that tie the world up in knots. Whether writing about our cultural roots, global dilemmas, or the fluency of Lake Ontario, all three of these authors illustrate a beautiful subjectivity of being. The more complex your readings become, the more coherent the poetry seems.
Jennica Harper's Wood plays with pop culture and parenthood. Divided into six different sections, Wood explores the feminist struggle of Mad Men's Sally Draper, the boyhood temptations that Pinocchio faces, and the illustration of a father as seen through comparisons to famous male celebrities. Harper approaches the topic of romanticism by deconstructing the romance of popular culture and addresses the issues of modern communication by acknowledging the double standards they enforce: "I hear what you're saying. / But not what you're meaning." In Wood everything comes back to our roots, whether familial, cultural or societal, the past is intertwined to create a poetic representation of the complexity and multiplicity of identity: "We are older now. Have / filled our skins. / Have filled our lives with / others' lives, and living."
New Star Books
Sybil Unrest was originally released in 2008 by LINEBooks but was recently re-released by New Star Books. Despite its older original release day, the collection still feels modern due to its avant-garde and subjective examination of humanity as a global species. Lai and Wong reappropriate 20th century Steinian wordplay in order to create a new poetic language of the 21st century, one with a strong feminist voice and sharp personal-political edge: "the fearsome chasm / spasms / vengeance / of the dispossessed / flash angry breasts / fossil fuels erotic offer / venous on the half shell."
Arguments with the Lake
Wolsak & Wynn
Tanis Rideout's Arguments with the Lake tells the story of two teen swimmers, Marilyn Bell and Shirley Campbell, who try to conquer Lake Ontario. The water becomes a metaphor for the fluency of events and relationships, as well as the way in which our actions affect every other: "always turning, clockwise. By love, by sex. By want. So simple to be a fish. / I'm always giving it away. With each stroke, flutter, catch kick and the surging need to inhale, inhale, like I've never taken a breath before." Arguments with the Lake is a coming of age story with a similar feminist edge to Wood and Sybil Unrest: "She says nothing. Just as she's told. Just smiles." Rideout's poetry illustrates the painful limitations of the human body by focalizing on the beauty and trauma of failure: "O, the lake. The only thing that kept me afloat / was what I thought was on the other side."
Looking for some quick Summer reads? Check out our free poetry eBook samplers.