Some women knit booties, spend months learning how to turn the heel. Others become morbidly interested in pastels. Me, I yanked out my hair, hank by hank, lining the crib with the long black stuff.
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m drawn to a well-made book. Show me a letterpressed cover on some beautifully sturdy card stock, and I will buy it in a heartbeat. Happily, this chapbook collection is well suited to the colourful, layered lettering gracing the front cover. Kalamalka Press did a lovely job presenting Ariel Gordon’s winning manuscript for the Inaugural John Lent Poetry-Prose Award, How To Make a Collage.
In six compact pieces, we are drawn into Gordon’s world of tiny baby teeth, disease remedies reminiscent of the early part of the century, and the maternal instincts of both geese and frogs. From the grandmother’s radiation-singed inner arm in ‘How To Make a Collage’, to the inventive twist of The Frog Prince in ‘Pond Scum,’ each poem transcends the everyday in disconcerting, yet arresting fashion. I couldn’t help but be reminded of staying up late reading something off the bookshelf I shouldn’t have been, simply because the details are so vivid.
That night, confused by meltwater, I circled the harbour’s plastic junk & beached myself when I saw him, thin & drunk & knee-deep in slush.
Gordon propels her poems as effortlessly as the beluga whale swims the icy waters of the Churchill River. (They are after all the only whale with a flexible neck). This is the kind of poetry that suspends between reality and disbelief, but does so with balanced skill, without leaving the reader behind. Rather, we are caught up in the swells of water and the flush of skin, eventually coming to shore, after what feels like the kind of dream you think about for days.
- review by Trisia Eddy
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Yay! How to Make a Collage's first review!