The path forward begins with a reference to what was left behind.
Or something. (“HEIRLOOM”)
Chilliwack, British Columbia poet Taryn Hubbard’s full-length debut is Desire Path (Vancouver BC: Talonbooks, 2020). As part of her 2019 interview for Touch the Donkey, she speaks of the poems that would eventually appear as part of this collection:
These poems are from a project I’ve been working on for the past few years that explores home in the suburb—in the intersections, overlaps, and gaps between urban and rural. These are walking poems and driving poems. In growing suburbs across the country, there is a push to urbanize, to rethink this, often sprawling, space. Urban renewal is foreshadowed all over contemporary suburbs, where vacant single-family lots herald anticipation of redevelopment into something more, something better, something healthier. But before that happens, what do we make of the space as it sits today? What monuments anchor the suburb now? I’m also interested in looking at what creates visual repetitions along superblocks, which in the poems you mention are gas stations, fast food restaurants, flickering flat screen TVs, and cars. Suburbs are sometimes described generically as simply bedroom communities for commuters who work in the city, but I think they’re more than that.
police cruiser. CHEAP
leaves floors slick. The
puddles outside pool
spit – it’ll be okay, let
away with the forecasted
rain. All these people
drove here but come
morning not a car’ll be
There is something underplayed in these pieces; poems that announce themselves precisely by not doing such. Part of what is compelling about this collection is her ongoing engagement with multiple forms, as the halting phrases of her lyric precision become an accumulated rush through her prose poems, or stretch across longer distances via multiple-page sequences, whether the five-part “HEIRLOOM” that opens the book or, further on in the collection, the fifteen pages of self-contained fragments of “ATTEMPTS,” that opens:
When you have a treasure, accept it right from the start.
So I do. I start over. Start over and over again, like I should have from the beginning.
I have a treasure, and it’s starting to manifest.
The treasure was a state that took hold late July when the air was hot and thick with smoke from wildfires three hours east of us in the Interior. The ash felt like living and I felt like living ash. I hadn’t expected this manifestation and was absent from what was happening on my body; I went about my day.
I knew myself (or believed as much) but still, everything that grew in me came as a surprise. Still, it was growing.
The afternoon was like any other, but the smoke.
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