Dec 10, 2014
This week's Snapshots blog features poetry collections from three talented Canadian authors. Each book experiments with the expansive but also restrained possibilities of poetry by playing with form, content, and language.
For Your Safety Please Hold On
For Your Safety Please Hold On is a debut poetry collection written by Kayla Czaga. The book is broken into five sections: the first two, "Mother & Father" and "The Family" introduce the reader to Czaga's complex, intimate, and somewhat surreal family life while the following sections, "For Play," "For your Safety Please Hold On," and "Many Metaphorical Birds" carefully unravel the simple linguistic constructions which were only just established. Czaga's poetry collection deconstructs the vivid image of her mother and father by poetically acknowledging the difficulties of linguistic representation: "My father is more like a poem than most poems / are." For Your Safety Please Hold On pulls its readers in and then spirals out of control, encouraging them to hold onto each other in order to stay in one piece. For Your Safety Please Hold On is infinitely quotable, for more, please check out this Toronto Quarterly interview with Czaga.
Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects
Wolsak and Wynn
Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects initially began as a playful experiment with the glosa form but transformed into an intriguing deconstruction of formal restraints. In her interview with the Toronto Quarterly, author Catherine Graham explains how every time the glosa form started to limit her she let it go. While the original idea for the collection was formed using the straightjacket restraint, the final poems blossomed out of a resistant and creative freedom. The final product is subtly violent and beautifully poetic. As Graham writes, "I'm passive like a cut / that never heals, only closes / over coldly, a wound of ice and snow."
The Things I Heard about you
Things I Heard about you is best described as self-erasure poetry. Alex Leslie's debut poetry collection is almost the exact opposite of Graham's Her Red Hair Rises. Instead of breaking free from a formal restraint, Leslie uses erasure to tighten 13 poems to the point of near extinction. The unpublished manuscript of this poetry collection was shortlisted for the 2014 Robert Kroetsch award for innovative poetry and for good reason. The beauty of Leslie's poetic process is difficult to explain, so we'll just show you an example: "The things I heard about you – driving past I looked at bathtubs of glass light, garden intestines, spaceman. Leave him. Stringing and string up glass and you know the difference. Design in salt worn against the rising." But even this poem is not small enough: "Smaller" Leslie writes beneath it and so it becomes. The final revision of the poem is nothing but one word: "Thumbprint."