menu Arc Poetry Magazine

Topic: Gordon Hill Press

The (Dis)Placement of the Self: Roxanna Bennett’s The Untranslatable I

It’s been just over a year since I recovered from my last flare up—when I last spent the night in the emergency department, visiting nearby nurses offices, responding over the phone with my fluids in and out in ounces. It was also around this time that my review of Roxanna Bennett’s previous collection was published. And seeing my thoughts alongside their poetry—particularly at a time where I felt so unheard—I began to recognize that the more I experience pain, the more I gain access to new sets of meanings that are otherwise inaccessible.

Scrying for identity and the future in uncertain waters: Night Lunch by Mike Chaulk

“I await, still my great white-bear,” Chaulk begins Night Lunch, a somewhat rambling examination of self-identity while working aboard a freight-and-passenger ferry serving isolated Canadian communities. Introspective about the past, present, and future, and his Indigenous roots, Night Lunch is a vicarious trip. In this travel-limited era, it’s a great hook. Chaulk’s strongest stanzas delve past superficial workaday rapport, hinting at the mythopoetic. Chaulk seeks the same certainty of self that Thomas Wolfe described in Look Homeward, Angel about Americans being clearest about who they are while journeying.

Playful Melancholy: Saturn Peach by Lily Wang

Saturn Peach is an impressive debut. Withdrawn and melancholy, this collection is rich with fresh imagery. With beautiful images like “beetle-tongue”(“Some Trees”), “almond milk in all the trees”(“Stadium Show”), or waving “one’s heart at the sky like a dirty washcloth” (“Figura”), Lily Wang juxtaposes playfulness with a feeling of melancholy present throughout her collection. This sadness is more peripheral than outright, hanging off the poems, leaving space for love and friendship. In the poem “For My Friends Who Save Me,” the speaker exclaims, “Here come my friends. / Chirping in a rainbow floating on a puddle. Easy. / I’m clutched in a claw.” The more vulnerable moments are touching, but not too saccharine, maintaining the cool voice of the narrator. Adept at hugging the line, Wang never becomes overly sentimental nor too absurd, keeping the reader on their toes but never plunging too far in one direction or the other.

Sketching “A Glimmer of that Majesty”: Swoon by Elana Wolff

Attentive to the mysteries of their worlds, the speakers in Elana Wolff’s sixth poetry collection, Swoon, incarnate the same sensual curiosity that characterized the author’s previous collection, Everything Reminds You of Something Else (Guernica, 2017). While that title announced Wolff’s penchant for allusive expression, Swoon suggests the affective experience centred in her searching, spiritual lyrics.

nightlack / grieflung: A Cemetery for Holes by Tom Prime and Gary Barwin

At first glance, A Cemetery for Holes may not attract too much attention to the intricacy of collaborative communication, but upon closer inspection a Lichtenberg pattern of trauma burns itself into the margins of each page. Tom Prime weaves a narrative of trauma as Gary Barwin’s poetry acts as a convex mirror for Prime’s distorted self-portrait.