Don’t miss these collections! If you get them soon, you may even finish reading them before me—I’ve currently got All Violet and This Wound Is A World on my bedside table and just recently posted my review of Lyric Sexology Vol 1.
This posthumous collection of poetry was published in late 2017 by Caitlin Press, which beautifully describes the book:
“In All Violet, a young woman chronicles the experience of living on the margins, in spaces and places where body and mind are flayed by guilt, disappointments and betrayals. Her poems record the shattering trauma of struggling to survive through periods of doubt, fear, rage and pain, creating a narrative of disconnection, indignation, alienation and emptiness, the extremes of suffering and desperation. Employing lyrical free verse, Rani Rivera has skillfully employed the short line to pinpoint moments of acute perception. Unadorned, taut and precise cries of pain, loss and fury draw the reader deeper and deeper inside this in-your-face confrontation with a dark world of foreboding alleviated by flashes of mordant wit and grace under fire.”
Check out an excerpt from “Night and Day”:
I’m getting off the 501 streetcar
and stomping my big black boots into the sidewalk.
Surprisingly, my posture is perfect,
unburdened by a knapsack full of poems
and one vintage men’s Burberry trench coat.
I’m heading home on Queen West West
in an asymmetrically zippered coat
and a Northbound Leather shopping bag in tow.
Carrying war wounds and forgotten accessories.
Feeling confident, cocky even, assured.
Published in fall 2017 by Frontenac House Poetry, Cree poet Belcourt’s debut book of poetry is:
“Part manifesto, part memoir, This Wound is a World is an invitation to “cut a hole in the sky to world inside.” Billy-Ray Belcourt issues a call to turn to love and sex to understand how Indigenous peoples shoulder sadness and pain like theirs without giving up on the future. His poems upset genre and play with form, scavenging for a decolonial kind of heaven where ‘everyone is at least a little gay.’ ”
I had the pleasure of attending a reading by Belcourt and some other Indigenous poets and this is the beginning of a poem “Sacred” I distinctly remember:
a native man looks me in the eyes as he refuses to hold my hand
during a round dance. his pupils are like bullets and i wonder what
kind of pain he’s been through to not want me in this world with
him any longer. i wince a little because the earth hasn’t held all of me
for quite some time now and i am lonely in a way that doesn’t hurt
you see, a round dance is a ceremony for both grief and love and each
body joined by the flesh s encircled by the spirits of ancestors who’ve
already left this world. i ask myself: how many of them gave up on
desire because they loved their kookums more than they loved
In its new 2017 edition, Lyric Sexology Vol 1 is described by its publisher Metonymy Press like this:
” ‘That’s the bones of Lyric Sexology—that poetry can be a philosophical argument.’
Mostly written before the current cultural visibility of trans lit, Lyric Sexology Vol. 1 was Salah’s prescient contribution to a canon of self-determined literature that explores transness. In this case, the author sidesteps the ‘I’ in the text and instead draws on archives—sexological, anthropological, psychological, among others—to demonstrate the shifting and shifty nature of our identities, affiliations, and narratives.”
I recently reviewed it and shared an excerpt from my favourite poem:
I masturbate in lunar cycles
with your bleeding agile thighs,
big tits in red mesh crushed.
The gravity of your love
and our doom, in mind.
At Club Super Sexe, you’re the new favourite:
corkscrew blonde curls, ballerina body
except those tits you hate—
why you’re not a ballerina—
and a face too young to be legal.
But best, with brains, they like that:
one of the regulars brings this magnetic chess set.
On slow nights the manager lets him play you
while other girls vamp on stage
You gunk up my face and put me in your dress,
ripped fishnets. I look awful. I cut my face
in the bathroom mirror. You suck the glass out,
smoke me up and promise
someday I’ll have tits like yours…