Thursday, November 10, 2011

Emily Carr, 13 ways of happily

the young housewife forging myth in the kitchen—like all
the old hopes, the beginning can only be called by what it is not (“draft 1, eye, white & spring.)
Chosen by Cole Swensen as winner of the New Measure Poetry Prize comes former Calgary poet Emily Carr's second trade collection, 13 ways of happily (Anderson SC: Parlor Press, 2011). This is a follow-up to Directions for Flying, 36 fits: a young wife’s almanac (Baltimore MD: Furniture Press, 2010), which itself was winner of the first annual Furniture Press Poetry Prize, and various chapbooks published through Toadlily Press and above/ground. Subtitled “books 1 & 2,” 13 ways of happily extends a thread from her previous trade collection of domestic dissatisfactions, references to sparrows, and such long threaded ideas and phrases carved and re-stitched in the most unusual ways, less a quilt than a rag-doll, stronger than the sum of its individual parts. So often new writing replicates what came before, but Carr is one of the few who actually makes the language sing and spread like new, twisting new light out of the endless dark. She teases us with the tagline, but will there actually be further books to her 13 ways of happily? Are these but the first two of eleven still to come?
you see how
easy it is...
the lonely
herself to
bobs out
broken up
& up, this
ness— (“draft 5, half a wishbone expressing / with broken breast the truth.”)
These stunning, articulate fragments of Carr's poems etch their odd way into a narrative of sorts that almost work on the microscopic level, like thousands of tiny pinpricks that accumulate into something larger, something unbelievably grand. When she writes, “aimless wasteful & drunk the sun is lunatic logic but lovely yes like / lemonjuice” something happens, something that can't entirely, immediately, be understood. The flurry of her language is, as the back cover attests, a “profound stillness,” one that reworks and reinvents into a broader, larger canvas, managing to somehow morph out into the entirety of her work, as each new publication potentially another fragment of something larger than itself. There is something of Robert Kroetsch's Completed Field Notes or bpNichol's The Martyrologythe poem as long as a life—to Carr's poetry, composing self-contained works that broaden all that came before.
(you do not
know which to prefer: the shadows of
lifesized figerglass cows or the child with a
plush octopus, barking (“draft 2, & you know this / is your fate to waver.”)

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