Nov 15, 2016
November’s Snapshots is brought to you by twos, threes, and eights, because in these troubled times of monolithic opinions and personalities, multiplicity seems like a thing worth pursuing. Also brought to you by Davis Plett, Winnipeg based poet, musician, and theatre artist. Catch his work on Erin Shields’ play, Beautiful Man, playing at Theatre Projects Manitoba November 17th – 27th!
Goose Lane Editions
“The only thing I fear,” says the speaker of “Elusive Structure,” “is becoming illutable—an old / way of saying ‘unable to be / washed way.” Ali Blythe’s poems are permeable; they breathe; they create space for identities and expressions that wash away, that are “unable to be,” that are unable to achieve being’s solidity and certainty and don’t really want to anyways. The idea of “two” in these poems does not delineate a division but rather suggests a fluidity and a possibility. Bodies are unwrapped to reveal a generous ambiguity: “It isn’t always / about orifices. // But I am the lunatic sliding fingers in [….] A young Hermaphroditus / undressing in the pool.” A movie’s underwater breath-holding contest ends in uncertainty: “One friend / returns to the surface to die. // The other never resurfaces. / The audience is left to wonder.” Art teaches strange lessons: “I think / about the Dutch artist who learned / to make actual indoor clouds / that dissipate even as one admires / their understanding of existence.” “I become and become,” concludes the speaker of “Elusive Structure.” “I’m sorry to those / who will find nothing left of me.”
The central preoccupation in Sarah Tolmie’s collection is the triangular relationship—the relational trio that, like the infamous three-wheeler atv, is apt to topple. Rivals and poets, children and academics, lovers real and imagined—all of these form pyramids, with their sonnet-spouting speaker at their pinnacle. One hundred and twenty fourteen line poems, replete with requisite rhymes and tumultuous times, plumb the depths of lust, longing, and satisfyingly meta-poetic musings. Some choice lines: “Sequence is not important. I have two / First memories of you”; “Cuddle me gently and don’t talk, dumb jock”; “The love of a poet is a bullet. [….] People flee without knowing what it means”; “Third spring since this began, I am afraid: / Troilus and Criseyde and Diomede. [….] This production / Is low rent. Criseyde does not get laid / But writes the book.” Trio’s concluding poem offers a dichotomy: “You fish the fish or you fish the water: / Two schools of thought from The Compleat Angler / And two theories of love.” Unsurprisingly, the poetics of Sarah Tolmie don’t allow that binary to stand. There is a third theory of love, but this Snapshot leaves it out of the frame and invites you to discover it for yourself.
Patrick Warner’s Octopus has eight arms and can fit through improbably small holes. There are few places it can’t go, and it’ll try to go to them anyways. With a greater narrative focus than Trio or Twoism, Octopus tells tales of drug-addled clubbers (“Her tiny palm / is divided in four by a cross, / each quadrant bearing a postage stamp, // each embossed with a propelling octopus. / ‘To make you swim where few have swum,’ she says. [….] I dab one on the snail-mail of my tongue”), pun-preoccupied agricultural crops (“The pin-head cobs knock heads together, / trade thoughts, as though they were watched, / as though they are afraid to say. They find / camouflage in corny gags and cliché”), and chic boulders (“a forgotten / grey / hoodie / slung / on a boulder / blends in so / well I think / this devil-ma- / care / erratic / has shrugged / off / the yoke / of function / and / grown a style”). A collection that happily wanders the seven seas.