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Topic: 2015 books

How difficult could it be to stay here?: Karen Solie’s The Road In Is Not The Same Road Out

Karen Solie’s fourth collection unsettles and exposes the false comforts of stasis. That these are poems of change and travel is evident from their titles alone—“Rental Car,” “Via”—but mobility is temporally as well as spatially contingent. Poems offer transitions in and out of the familiar, whether on foot or through “Google Earth’s invisible pervert.” Distance can exacerbate difference, or occlude it. Thus while the book is thematically tight, it is not preciously so. Invasions become forms of extreme locality, questions of who or what belongs: bedbugs, gentrification, “the seeds of Walmart / sprouting in the demographic.” If “We are all locals now” then no one is. Named places, like “Sault Ste. Marie,” act not only as destinations, but also as sites of constant movement, conceptual as well as physical border towns, their alien-ness exaggerated by speakers always just passing through.

Run, Reader, Run: Peter Norman's The Gun That Starts the Race

Consistent with the spirit of its title, Peter Norman’s third collection of poetry unfolds with a bang. The creatures and objects of the world are on the move, in constant gleeful rebellion against humanity. Behind ordinary societal processes, triumphs and tragedies, raccoons snuffle, crows forage, maggots writhe, Mole Men squirm, and even human teeth turn against the nails and knuckles of their owners with ravenous resolve. On top of this, the dead and the inanimate are fighting back; in “Parked Truck, Moosomin SK” the wiper blades and windscreen of the eponymous vehicle have fallen to an explosion of insect carnage described in vivid, cinematic detail. In “Demolition”, the destroyed shingles and beams reshuffle themselves into their rightful places, as if to give the finger to their wrecking crew overlords.

Raw Precision: Eva H.D.’s Rotten Perfect Mouth

With Rotten Perfect Mouth, Eva H.D. leaps onto Canada’s poetry stage as an unknown, the book imparting her first published poetry. It would have been a risk for Mansfield Press, had H.D.’s voice been less strong, her imagery less vivid and haunting, or her sense of what troubles us less exact.

From train graffiti to the history of chewing gum, H.D. focuses with keen precision on the magnificent, rotten details of daily living.

Real Pictures Are of Nothing: Erín Moure’s Кaпycтa / Kapusta

If, as the racially, physically and sexually-diverse figurants (at once villagers, stagehands, chorus, missives, loose Ohrwurms) in Erìn Moure’s Kapusta claim, “[i]t’s monuments that let us forget the dead,” this poem/play/cabaret investigates the question, what lets us remember?

Reminiscent of Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn in the book’s premise to return and explore not just the atrocity of war, but also the silence surrounding it—in Moure’s case, the silence of her mother—Kapusta drops a mute sock monkey named Malenka Dotchka or “little daughter” between family and history to open up new possibilities for language. Yes, the sock monkey speaks, but through whom or what is what matters—posing: Where can the voice be placed? How can it be impactful?