Monday, June 06, 2022

Ongoing notes, still-early-June 2022: Elizabeth Wood + Simina Banu,

Isn’t it good I’ve started doing chapbook reviews again? Oh, why am I always behind on things? I know I have a couple of stacks of titles I have yet to get to (and still hope to). Perhaps I should get on that. And have you been keeping up with the interviews I’ve been posting weekly with Ottawa (either current or former) writers? More than one hundred so far!

And above/ground press turns TWENTY-NINE YEARS OLD in a couple weeks; can you imagine?

Montreal QC: Another title from James Hawes’ Turret House Press is Elizabeth Wood’s Outlaw, Rainy Day (2022), another pandemic/lockdown-specific project, through which Wood examines and re-examines erasure, offering both source text and erasures side-by-side. The chapbook is offered as a kind of ongoing or even final report from the period, sketched notes from a period of uncertainty, as though she works to excise or even rework time, distilling eleven erasures from an original source material of over two hundred and fifty prose poems. As her introductory notes offer: “In the case of erasure poetry, defining specific interventions mirrors the transit example above in its multiplicity of options: is it best to condense, but preserve the same spirit, tone, rhythm? Or to determine the poem’s essence, and carve away the superfluous?” Further on, writing: “At home, all I could do was to describe the outside COVID-world to my mother locked inside. Reality became medical appointments disguised as phone consults, endless work deadlines missed or botched, and a ritual of blithe pretense that all would be fine.” Her poems hold and rework the anxieties of the period, lifting up and even lifting out different elements at different points. How easily can we excise the present, or the past? How much or how little are we allowed to revise?

Standardization                                                drives forward.
  time out, fish awhile. Swirl
      what matters.

Crave salt and find a dime. Or a
Field                     and take the leap.

Sweet salt-sweat trickles                                               a family
      in raucous chaos,
small branches overhead.


Sweet saliva                                               of discovery: taste, touch.
      Rapacious heart.

Toronto ON: With a collaborative chapbook with Amilcar Nogueira forthcoming with Collusion Books, Canadian poet Simina Banu’s latest [see my review of her full-length debut here] is the chapbook harmony in Beach Foam (Anstruther Press, 2022), a chapbook-length sequence of small points along a fragmented, almost disjointed thread. Banu composes small moments across pandemic-isolation, articulating a sloth interiority, flares of depression and other elements of mental health, what so many individuals were experiencing at different points of Covid-19 lockdown and isolation. “I can’t pronounce anesthetist.” she writes, early on in the collection. “I don’t comb my hair // because the plants survive // regardless. The ants // haven’t colonized. The mold’s benign.”

This apartment

looks like a relaxing place to die.

A sleepy sort of death,


Can you believe the hardwood?

It’s like a tree curled

into my kitchen.

roots tangle in my hair

and I finally do a dish

because there are no balconies

to leap from


1 comment:

James Hawes said...

Thank you rob for your reviews! So generous and kind of you!