Bardia Sinaee’s Intruder is honest and evocative, built from his experiences and ideas into a meticulously curated collection of poems. Intruder quickly characterizes Sinaee’s style as one filled with succinct imagery, a fact that repeated like a mantra as I read and reread the collection. Within a few lines or a single phrase, the speaker of the poem brings the reader exactly where Sinaee needs them to be.
The first few lines of “Bloodwork,” the first poem of the collection, set Sinaee’s compact style with “out with the sun and the jade / It is the squelching armpit of August,” a beautiful affirmation of Ontario’s intensely humid summers. “Squelch” does not exactly roll off the tongue, a feature beautifully juxtaposed by the pleasant “sun and the jade” of the earlier line. Through two lines alone, we not only see but experience the “squelching” discomfort of those days in August.
Intruder’s minimalist style is often emphasized through Sinaee’s dynamic use of the page, like in such poems as “Stichomancy” and “Ziziphora,” where short lines are spaced down the page, giving each line a visual and auditory weight. Sinaee’s exaggerated spacing creates a pacing and punctuation guideline for many of the pieces while still allowing for reader interpretation. This ambiguousness creates multiple avenues of interpretation, depending on where you place stresses and how you read the short stanzas in conjunction with each other. Sinaee’s spacing also creates clever transitions where the end line of one stanza is the first half of the opening line of the following stanza, making for awkward cold reads but deeper understandings of the poem through rereads and contemplation. You can look at these broken lines on their own, within the context of the poem and again in relation to what’s around it. Many of Intruder’s poems are an open-ended roadmap packed with beautiful sights and scenes to be explored at your own pace and interpretation.
Bardia Sinaee’s entertaining and provocative wordsmithing delivers the subject matter of his poems beautifully, particularly those with a strong connection to the author. In “Twelve Storeys,” a poem that relays his experiences in the hospital receiving treatment, the poem does not lean on the sensitive nature of its subject matter for empathy but its powerfully honest account of the ordeal. We cannot help but feel for the speaker through “Hydromorphone doesn’t stop the pain; pain courses through the / body and I don’t feel it.”
Whether it is capturing the landscape of urban living and its encroachment, personal narratives of navigating a severe medical condition, or reflection of media and news of the Middle East, the poems are delivered with medical precision. They are succinct concepts ending on a compelling and evocative note. Intruder truly establishes Sinaee as an upcoming talent within the Toronto poetry community.
(update provided in 2021) Born in Toronto and raised in the sticks of Tweed, Ontario, Jordan Prato is a Carleton University Alumni and school teacher.