Thursday, October 27, 2011

Leigh Kotsilidis, Hypotheticals

By Any Name

When jackals' baying is both backdrop
and foreground, when forest

is conifers and impenetrable
fence, when mongoose predator

equals mongoose prey, which truth
will the brain feign?

A lyrebird's call appropriates
any sound it fancies. Above us,

shithawks flock
to mock us. Featherbrained,

we agree bullshit is the best
decoy. The average vocabulary

is 10,000 words, and one
easily stands in for another.

It is all the same.
For example, you, me

and the Cecropia moth,
born speechless, wriggling

free, only to flop atop
the first moth we see.
There is a wry and formal parlance to the poems of Montreal poet and graphic designer Leigh Kotsilidis' first trade poetry collection, Hypotheticals (Toronto ON: Coach House Books, 2011), that intrigues, that begs the questions of 'how does one arrive at this point,' and 'where does one continue from here?' For Kotsilidis, the theory she writes about is science (as the back cover explains) as “a useful metaphor to explain the world,” and the fallibility and limitations inherent in such metaphors. Still, formal competency by itself does not make for great writing, and the strengths here are, for the most part, quietly understated. The collection as a whole exists almost as a scientific study, with poems etched out into four sections—Evidence, Variables, Falsifications and Conclusions—echoing scientific method in her larger thesis. I understand full well the idea of approaching writing as a kind of ongoing study, but, in Kotsilidis' poems of what may or might be, what, I wonder, does she consider her conclusions, or is the structure of thesis a distraction away from what her individual poems might be actually accomplishing?
Flight School

Which scientifically feasible theory alleviates
this, that or the other pang, the hang

and hunker of this or that man, the folly
of falling repeatedly off the lone horse,

the Morse of you, then you, then you and me?
That you or I are lonely or that this is only fling

would be no consolation to those known
as wingmen, the dartboard-hearted,

the dashed-hope guarded. That you or I
want more than less is not earth-shattering,

nor will it guarantee you or me the bee's
knees. No, one of us always buckles

and bucks beneath the spousal 'we,' needs
the other to believe there is no theory,

wants more then less, and more often
that and then another.

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