In a conversation with Lisa Robertson, (hosted by BookThug and viewable online), Aisha Sasha John observes that an octopus can see with its skin. Tiny organs in the skin of an octopus, disconnected from the brain or eye, swell in response to light, sending waves of colour across the skin’s surface. John uses this phenomenon to challenge one’s prevailing modes of perception. In I have to live, she posits new modes of perception in seeking to answer the question–Where is the soul lodged?
“What would your life be without it?” asks the Anne Carson epigraph that opens the recent translation of Brossard’s 2008 collection Ardour, translated by Angela Carr. “Ardour,” a derivative of what meant literally “to burn” (ardere) is a concept that runs alongside desire, intensity, speed, intelligence, honesty and lucidity in Brossard’s vital formula of what is significant to her in life. This collection, overflowing with tender intensity, full cries in the dark, and “nice shots of emptiness in certitude,” embodies all of these things. Ardour’s microclimate is pure passion, language’s tide lapping against the edges of the body, tracing the “familiar curve” of the ellipse and the eyebrow.
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?