Thursday, July 01, 2010

Reprint: Giving birth to babies and books

Local writer Ariel Gordon discusses her new poetry collection, Hump
by Kristy Hoffman (Volunteer)

June 29th 2010 edition of the Uniter

Love, nature, the city and being knocked up are all central themes in the poetry comprising Hump, a collection by Winnipeg writer Ariel Gordon.

Mindfully crafted with language that is simple and engaging, it is the first full book of poetry the 37-year-old has published. It is preceded only by two chapbooks: 2008’s The Navel Gaze and 2009’s Guidelines: Malaysia & Indonesia, 1999.

Observant narrative describes an eclectic assortment of experience occurring before, during and after pregnancy. The book, as a result, displays three parts, each bearing clever peculiarities that make the read memorable.

The works in Part I (some written as early as 2005) often bring into focus recognized Winnipeg scenery, such as the Assiniboine Park Zoo and the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden.

Part II is subdivided by titles that parallel various stages of pregnancy. The poems found here were written “while preggers” and Gordon attributes this to a mind busied by the topic.

The poetry found in Part III is the most recent, as it concerns life with a child. Gordon completed the manuscript in late 2008 and the book was published this past April.

“I firmly believe that books are mostly just containers for human conversation, thoughts and feelings and opinions,” she said by e-mail at the end of June. “And I suppose I hope that my book ‘talks’ to people, that the poems are interesting to them in terms of language but also theme and setting.”

Gordon’s own experiences, even if not always literal, serve as the foundation upon which all of the poetry is based.

“A synopsis (of Hump) would look something like this: Girl meets boy, girl colonizes boy, girl eventually gets knocked up. Baby then colonizes girl and boy (but mostly girl) and also their entire life.”

On the significance of the connection between the book’s title, the poem “Hump” and the collection in its entirety, Gordon notes that she was looking for a title that is a good mouthful.

“(The) word ‘hump,’ with its toothy consonants and that beautiful ‘u,’ seemed to fit the bill.”

There is more to it than that, however, as the title awakens every meaning of the word. According to Gordon, ‘Hump’ simultaneously invoked (and rhymed with) ‘bump’ (as in baby bump), and the word also describes a mound of earth, or slang for sex.

“(And) without sex, there’s no babies, right?”

But ultimately, it’s not just mothers who will enjoy Hump - most Winnipeggers will find some aspect in the poetry to relate to.

“I wanted to see Winnipeg represented in poetry, to have this book be as much a love poem to the city as to my partner and our child,” Gordon said.

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