Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Margaret Christakos, Welling

After numerous other poetry collections moving through other explorations, including riffs off Montreal and Glengarry County in her Not Egypt (Toronto ON: Coach House Press, 1989) to her later College Street-neighbourhood backyard and family in books such as wipe.under.a.love. (Toronto ON: Mansfield Press, 2000), Excessive Love Prostheses (Toronto ON: Coach House Books, 2002) to What Stirs (Coach House Books, 2008), Toronto writer and editor Margaret Christakos goes home again in Welling (Sudbury ON: Your Scrivener Press, 2010). Not just home for the writing but the locale of the publisher too, writing her hometown of Sudbury, as her bio says, Christakos “grew up in Sudbury on Wellington Heights and at her family’s Ramsey Lake (north shore) property. At 17, she headed south. She remains strongly attached to these spaces, scents and signposts.”
My friend’s friend died if struck by,

received by, sky. My love
sparks for an instant

& I feel colour singe me.

That’s how paragraphs go,
on the balls of their pink feel directly

into traffic. In these circumstances

any single thing becomes smeared &
anything can be beauteous. (“Gulls”)
In seven sections – “Barrel,” “Motional,” “Prelude,” “Evolution,” “Gulls,” “The problem of confessionality” and “Wellington” – Welling moves out from her adopted city into her previous landscape and then deeper, starting with “Toronto’s metal skin immaculate, masking / a thrombosis of the senses.” and, further on in the same poem, (“Fortune”) to:
We used to get pulled from small towns;
Metropolitan promises magnetic
in neon, how lovely boys seemed
to exist on every bench of the Eaton
Centre, perfect lips & the right Lee
jeans, buttocks you could kiss
without debasement. You forgot secret
bonfires on Laurentian Beach, whole
bottles of gin disgorged, teenagers from the other
highschool too near the black water
at 2 a.m. so drinken-stoned they can’t smell
drowning. Drowning
sniffed their presences, though,
The poem ending, with “Who / would leave such a place?”

This becomes the question of the entire book, exploring a return, exploring home and reasons for returning, reasons for originally leaving, and knowing the difference. Knowing the differences, and coming, slowly, to terms with such; its different, returning to the spaces of youth as an adult, and this is a collection that centres itself, as much of her work does, around relationships, specifically the family; writing Sudbury, where her family came from, and where some of it remains, as in this first section of the poem “Motional”:
I cannot pass the chance to design
your motional face in an orange moon. If you
are coming, whistle the way a night-
bird thinks of its mate, out pulling worms
so the babies, wormish enough themselves,
will be less so, & gladder than silence.

This black camp is profuse with pitched sounds
of a solo key, that now, turning its lock, makes
of landfall: family.
It’s as though there is a slightly different flavour to this collection; if her previous works of poetry bounce off each other in a linear thread between volumes, expanding, reworking and furthering, this collection seems almost a sidestep, writing concerns more contained, in the way that perhaps Moure’s Sheep’s Vigil by a Fervent Person (2001) presented concerns that didn’t fully repeat, return or respond in her own writing for another few collections. It’s only the final section, “Wellington,” that resonates with some of the echoes of her most recent work, almost as though the deeper she goes, the closer she is to her own self, back in Toronto. Her experiments have shifted in this collection, as Christakos explores subjects of home, location and dislocation, the nature of the individual versus that of the family; how one can’t exist without other.

No comments: