Vallum Poem of the Week: “No Paradise Here” by Mary Ann Moore

Mary Ann Moore

No Paradise Here

In the refuse pile behind the taverna, what is discarded and forgotten,
a snake appears from beneath a flattened cardboard box.
No paradise here, where tomatoes rot, geraniums spring from rusted olive oil tins.
The snake had green eyes like yours I tell my mother later.

I dream of fire and a horned devil; snakes around my feet of stone.

In Herakleion, cats under the small blue chair and at my feet,
I sit at a table eating calamari and squash blossoms surrounded by women
calling ourselves Minoan priestesses, cats on our heads,
snakes spiralling skyward in each of our hands.

I dream of bulrushes in water, priestesses wearing long skirts,
snake-entwined.

I cannot describe the shedding of my conventions,
what is underneath,
what is revealed in the alchemical transformation.
What clings ferociously to my naked skin.

I dream a skin casing hanging from a tree.

 

Mary Ann Moore is a poet and writer from Vancouver Island, B.C. whose work has appeared in literary journals, anthologies,
and several chapbooks edited by Patrick Lane. Her collection of poetry is entitled Fishing for Mermaids (Leaf Press). Mary Ann
has been leading women’s writing circles for over twenty years and offers a mentoring program called Writing Home: A Whole Life
Practice
. She writes a blog at apoetsnanaimo.ca.

To view other content published in this issue, 11:1, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.

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Vallum Poem of the Week: “String Quartet” by Jan Zwicky

Zwicky Moul Falls

 

String Quartet

What was it that you heard
half a century ago, transfixed there
at the top of the stairs, the evening
pink above suburban rooftops, the radio
left playing by the homework
on your desk? How did you know,
you who knew nothing
of Europe, or deafness, or love,
that someone finally was telling the truth?

 

Jan Zwicky has published ten collections of poetry, including Songs for Relinquishing the Earth, Forge, and, most recently, The Long Walk. The Experience of Meaning is due to be released in May 2019. Zwicky grew up on the prairies, was educated at the Universities of Calgary and Toronto, and currently lives on the west coast of Canada.

To view other content published in this issue, 13:2, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “A Scar” by Edward Dewar

Ed Dewar

 

A Scar

Gwendolyn MacEwan had it right.
It’s easy to brag about a scar.

Only the owner knows the flinty
edge, the possible savagery

of the knife, the Shakespearean
history. Therefore, go ahead

and brag, make a myth or become
an outlaw, but it’s never ordinary.

Was it an accident or self-defence?
The audience will never know,

only the poet and the assassin.
Was there violence, a discovery

or a calm acceptance? Was
a surgeon involved, sutures

or staples? Was there a shiver
along your spine or a cut

so white-hot that a Spartan
would deem it worthy.

It’s a code of honour,
an ancient runes made flesh,

a catalogue
of recklessness and beauty.

 

Edward Dewar is retired and working on his first manuscript. His poems have appeared in Southern Poetry Review, The Antigonish Review, The Nashwaak Review and The Dalhousie Review.

To view other content published in this issue, 13:2, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.

‘Poetry for our Future!’ at Lasalle Elementary

Until the end of June, our online donations manager, CanadaHelps, is running a contest called The Great Canadian Giving Challenge!

This means that if you make a donation towards Poetry for our Future! before the end of the month, our charity will be entered to win a grand prize of $10,000 for each dollar you donate! Every dollar you donate directly through CanadaHelps will count as an entry for Vallum into the draw. No amount is too small, and is gratefully appreciated! Every donation will go directly towards funding poetry and literacy outreach in our community, helping us grow the number of workshops we offer, expand outside of Montreal, and build our website as a hub and publishing resource for our workshop participants!

During the Great Canadian Giving Challenge, we’re letting you know about some of the great organizations we host literacy workshops with through our ‘Poetry for Our Future!’ outreach program. #GivingChallengeCA

Meet Lasalle Elementary

“LaSalle Elementary School is committed to educating the whole child within a safe, kind and bilingual environment, fostering success for all. The school provides a quality learning environment which encourages each child to develop to their full potential and foster within them a sense of community. Student success depends upon the schools team creating a welcoming and caring school climate where every child feels a sense of belonging and safety.”

Working largely with disadvantaged youths, our workshop facilitators use poetry as a teaching tool to enhance reading and comprehension skills. The collaborative workshops show students how poetry can be a fun way to reflect and express themselves!

You still have one more day to help VSEAL win $10,000 to support ‘Poetry for Our Future!’ workshops! Click here to donate – each dollar you donate before the end of June is an entry into the contest.

Vallum Poem of the Week: “Tr-lating Wilson Bueno” by Erín Moure

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TR-LATING WILSON BUENO

How not to speak, how to not speak, this oscillation is missing in the phrase “how to avoid speaking” that is the English title of Derrida’s essay. The curious presence of the word avoid in this title of a talk first given in English in Jerusalem. (How the young poet waking from a coma in Montreal after the accident, when asked: Do you know where you are? said: Jerusalem). In English, an avoidance, whereas in French an oscillatory structure is at work: “comment ne pas—parler” along with “comment—ne pas parler.” How can we not—speak? How can we not-speak?

Or perhaps in the English there is a nearly hidden reverberation: how to a-void speaking? How to unvoid it, remove its void. While trying to stay far from what will not ever stay far from us, for it adheres to us. So that we can’t just ignore or abandon speech, we must a-void it.

In translating Wilson Bueno, there is a reverberatory relation of three languages: Portuguese, Castilian, Guaraní, across a colonial border in western Brazil.

I am creating a translation in English-with-French-and-Guaraní that perhaps no one will read.

Something unreadable, un-avoidable, un-a-voidable. And its relation to sea: a river is also the sea, infolded.

 

Erín Mouré is a poet and translator of poetry. Recent works include Planetary Noise: Selected Poetry of Erín Moure (Wesleyan University Press, USA, 2017, ed. by Shannon Maguire), a translation of Brazilian Wilson Bueno’s Paraguayan Sea from portunhol (Nightboat, NYC, 2017, finalist for a US Best Translated Book Award ), and the memoir Sitting Shiva on Minto Avenue, by Toots (New Star 2017, finalist for the Mavis Gallant Award for Non-Fiction and for the City of Vancouver Book Award, to appear in 2020 in French translation by Colette St-Hilaire from Le Noroît). 2018 saw a 30th anniversary reissue of Furious (Anansi, Governor General’s Award 1988) and a regional and family history of the North and South Peace, Century in the North Peace: The Life and times of Anne and John Callison (Zat-So Productions, Montreal). This April, Erín is launching her translation of Galician poet Lupe Gómez’s Camouflage (Circumference), a co-translation with Roman Ivashkiv of Ukrainian poet Yuri Izdryk’s Smokes (Lost Horse Press), and her own The Elements (Anansi). She is currently working on two new poetryy translations: a new book translated from the Galician of Chus Pato, The Face of the Quartzes, and one from the French of Quebec poet Chantal Neveu, Radiant Life.

To view other poems published Vallum 14:1 “Evolution” please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE! Visit our website here to buy your digital edition today!

Featured Interview: Gwen Benaway

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Interview by Natalie Podaima

Gwen Benaway is a trans girl of Anishinaabe and Métis descent. She has published three collections of poetry, Ceremonies for the DeadPassage, and Holy Wild, and was the editor for an anthology of fantasy short stories, Maiden Mother and Crone: Fantastical Trans Femmes. Her writing has been critically acclaimed and widely published in Canada. She was a finalist for the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ writers from the Writer’s Trust of Canada, the Lambda Literary Award for Trans Poetry, and the National Magazine Awards and Digital Publishing Awards for her personal essay, “A Body Like A Home.” Her fourth collection of poetry, Aperture, is forthcoming from Book*hug in Spring 2020. She is also currently editing a book of creative non-fiction, trans girl in love, forthcoming from Strange Light in 2020. She lives in Toronto, Ontario and is a Ph.D student at the University of Toronto in the Women and Gender Studies Institute.

Gwen Benaway is the judge for the 2019 Vallum Award for Poetry. With the deadline for this year’s competition fast approaching, we asked Gwen to tell us about her own writing process and share some advice for those submitting.

gwenbenaway

How does a new work begin to take root for you? Do you start immediately with pen to paper, or does your process include a degree of pre-meditation, coaxing-out phrases, collecting images? 

New work starts for me when I sit down to write it. Often certain images or ideas will begin the process for me but they don’t determine the final product. Writing is how I uncover what I’ m working with/through, I think of writing as a practice, almost like a physical act that opens up possibilities for beauty.

With three collections of poetry and another forthcoming (Aperature, Book*hug, 2020), I’ve heard that you’re also editing a collection of essays to be released next year (trans girl in love, Strange Light, 2020). What is your relationship to non-fiction versus poetry? In what ways do you feel that the format informs the content of your work, if at all?

I love creative non-fiction and in some ways, I feel more skilled as a non-fiction writer than as a poet. Poetry and prose are equally demanding to write and read, but I think they do different things in the world. There is overlap between the skills, but they are distinct mediums. Content and form are the same thing to me, but intention matters greatly in writing. What am I trying to create in the world and why? Those are essential questions for me that fuel my writing.

What are you reading right now? 

I just read Ocean Vuong’s new novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. I’m currently reading Billy Ray Belcourt’s new book of poetry, NDN Coping Mechanisms, and a trashy werewolf fantasy book by Patricia Briggs.

Pick one: Write what you know, write what you love, write for yourself. 

I pick none of those options! What do we mean when we say “writing”? Writing as an industry? Writing as an artistic practice? Writing as truth telling? Writing as healing? Writing is synonymous with life for me. What are you living for? What do you want? What compels you in daily life? These questions are the ones which should animate your writing because the notion that there is any one guiding principle for literary production is a deeply naive one. Some writers write for money or fame. Others for recognition or praise. And some write for themselves or their communities. These choices are related and none are mutually exclusive, but they often do different things in the world and demand a different set of ethics and relationality.

Do you have any advice for poets wanting to submit their work to the Vallum Award for Poetry 2019? Any advice for poets in general?   

I am drawn to poetic honesty and a generosity of self. In other words, poetry that knows the “small mechanics”, to quote Lorna Crozier. My advice for poets is always the same: who are you? what do you want? what images captivate you? what stories are yours? Look for the answers in a poem. Don’t perform poetry. Just embody it.

*

Don’t forget to submit to the Vallum Award for Poetry 2019! First place receive $750 and publication in the upcoming issue of Vallum.
Deadline: July 15th, 2019
For more information and to enter online today, visit our website

 

Vallum Poem of the Week: “I Discover” by Jessica Van de Kemp

Van de Kemp - Author Photo

 

I Discover

(The light of a billion
bald stars

there in the dark
skull of the universe.

The moon surfaces.)

I bind the wound
with a mountain
of time.

Some say there’s a natural speed
to live and die by, a good orbit
that keeps the sky a sky
and not a cap of nitrogen, oxygen, argon.

I say there’s a god somewhere
in that smooth tunnel, a boy with a bird
and a length of string.

How quickly he installs
new stars on the ceiling.

I discover them all.

 

Jessica Van de Kemp is an award-winning teacher, poet, and PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo. In 2015, her poem “Slant of the Girl” was shortlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize, judged by Eavan Boland. In 2017, her play Hatching in a Cage was a finalist at the Newmarket National Play Festival. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks Daughters in the Dead Land (Kelsay Books, 2017) and Spirit Light (The Steel Chisel, 2015). You can connect with Jessica on Instagram, Twitter, and via her Website.

To view other content published in this issue, 11:2, please visit Vallum’s website.

Vallum magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE!

Download the FREE APP and FREE SAMPLE EDITION for your tablet, kindle or smartphone through PocketMags OR iTunes.

‘Poetry for our Future!’ at Spectrum Productions

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Until the end of June, our online donations manager, CanadaHelps, is running a contest called The Great Canadian Giving Challenge!

This means that if you make a donation towards Poetry for our Future! before the end of the month, our charity will be entered to win a grand prize of $10,000 for each dollar you donate! Every dollar you donate directly through CanadaHelps will count as an entry for Vallum into the draw. No amount is too small, and is gratefully appreciated! Every donation will go directly towards funding poetry and literacy outreach in our community, helping us grow the number of workshops we offer, expand outside of Montreal, and build our website as a hub and publishing resource for our workshop participants!

During the Great Canadian Giving Challenge, we’re letting you know about some of the great organizations we host literacy workshops with through our ‘Poetry for Our Future!’ outreach program. #GivingChallengeCA

Meet Spectrum Productions!

“Spectrum Productions works with individuals, both children and adults, who are on the autism spectrum. Learning experiences focus on creativity through film and media production, offering participants the chance to express themselves individually through storytelling, while also promoting a collaborative mindset, and technological skillset.

Activities are organized as summer camp and weekend retreats, as well as after-school workshops for children and social clubs for adults.”

VSEAL hosts workshops with Spectrum to enhance poetry literacy, creativity and free play with an engagement in activism and self-expression. Our workshops have included the creation and performance of both sound and visual collage poems. In the above photos, facilitator Jessica Bebenek imagines and creates book covers with workshop participants.

You still have two more weeks to help VSEAL win $10,000 to support ‘Poetry for Our Future!’ workshops! Click here to donate – each dollar you donate before the end of June is an entry into the contest. Every dollar counts!

Featured Review: Ekke by Klara du Plessis (Review by Zoe Imani Sharpe)

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Congratulations to Klara du Plessis, Vallum contributor and former employee, for winning the Pat Lowther Memorial Award for her book, Ekke!

Ekke by Klara du Plessis
(Toronto: Anstruther Books, 2018, 92 pages, $18.95 CND)

EkkeCover75dpi.jpg

Eeeeeek. Ek. Ekkkk. Ekke. I play around with this word a few times before opening Klara du Plessis’s debut collection of poetry. That I have to say the word aloud, in different inflections, means at least two separate things: one, I do not speak Afrikaans; and two, the word itself contains myriad possible interpretations. Similarly, there are endless possible ways to review this book, which is a marker of its strength and complexity. One interpretation is through the lens of race; another through thinking about modern nation-states; and yet another is through the ways in which languages structure identity for the immigrant, the emigrant, the settler, the traveller, the multilingual:

I eke
out a meaning for my self.

Ek
Ek
Ek
Ek
Ek
Ek
Stottering

Stutter ringing

Du Plessis’s work signals not only how much effort it takes to describe oneself but how that description is multivarious, and therefore mutable, vulnerable to fragmentation. In Afrikaans, the word ekke, as du Plessis’s notes translate, means “an emphasis of I. / A dialect.” In English, the same word is also a sound—of terror, judgement, reaction. The speaker’s sense of self lies in the wide space between names, words, languages.

Du Plessis’s phrasing is startling, dreamlike. “I pluck at juice around the mouth” or “brushing camouflage on stones” are lines that pop. That language itself can be a landscape full of “black line(s) leading tarred to the abattoir,” “subtropical strap-ons,” “pin-pricks of white between grays and browns” is clearly, and beautifully, rendered here.

The second section of the book, “Stillframe Inbox,” is particularly compelling. There is much to be said about technology and ekphrasis, or the ways in which images (emojis and memes, in particular) have become common verse in our languages. Instead, du Plessis’s explanation of the section as a eulogy for her late friend, the artist Dorothea (Dot) Vermeulen, gives the poems an elegiac tone in which one begins to understand that language, like our loved ones, leaves traces:

It’s not safe sex, location is everything and this place
is not the wrong side of the tracks but the tracks themselves
where trains no longer make their elated way
and men walk tracing exhalations in the dust with their boots

If the book has a shortcoming perhaps it’s that I, as a reader, cannot comprehend if the narrative has a definitive political stance. The playfulness of du Plessis’s style, while clever and robust, had me itching for the theme to land on an argument. I wanted more profanity, more messiness in the language. The fact that both Afrikaans and English have been creolized—often by those whose traditional languages were made precarious by the ongoing European colonial project—does not, at least overtly, enter the text. Though du Plessis is careful to underscore the ways in which language continues to mark the landscapes of bodies:

mond oorblyfsels teen die skedel

ancestry perverted as

vertes

My language is a secret / secretion …
uncurling its animal muscles when the break is done

Diverging from the boiling anger found within Erin Mouré’s collection of feminist language-overhaul in her 1988 book Furious, Ekke is, on the other hand, meditative. It rides on “brute force.” Concerned with how power operates, the book thoroughly tests what language, as we use it, can offer:

Hunt stands adjacent to hurt
to be protected is to let that person be exposed.
Show-off masculinity and suddenly
there’s a collection of men, a natural history museum right there and
then.

That this “natural history museum” may include language, or a type of language, or a way of using language, are exciting propositions. As a reader, writer, and someone who thinks in words, my own experience of language—the language used to describe me and the language I have used to describe myself—has often felt imprecise. For example, a compound, North American word like ‘mixed-race’ does not come close to approximating or explaining my particular world-view as a mixed-race person, and thus tends to feel dead on the page. In Ekke, du Plessis holds a funeral for the limitations for every overused, empty, inanimate woord.

Are certain languages too tied up with the logic of the nation-state to be accurate representations of place? I am struck by the way du Plessis’s poems reveal the hidden strenuousness of officialised languages and the constrictive rationale of languages of colonial conquest; English, Afrikaans, French. The collection gestures toward loosening these limitations through the exercise of expansion and connection. It uncloaks how each of these languages exhaust themselves to keep themselves in power, and how observant study may allow new linguistic infinities. This is true specifically in South Africa, where the use of language—and the effect that certain languages have on those who use them, what language imbues— has always had political impact:

To reminisce is a ritual.
But to renew
a book at the library or the cells of the skin
or for a nation to officiate one language to eleven
is the hardest doubling act you’ll see

in this country.

The speaker “walk[s] across different languages as if they are flatlands.” I’m reminded of Dionne Brand’s assessment that “no language is neutral,” and as du Plessis elaborates, what if (inadequate, at times partisan) language is all one has to find a physical (psychic) closeness to place? If there is “no lingua franca of the mind,” as du Plessis asserts, how does one’s relationship with oneself operate in different locales? What happens right before “decency intervenes and the distance between thrusts / lingers?” How cavernous is the dialect between the “I” of the languages we speak, and the “I” of the physical landscapes we live in? It seems to me the closing of this gap relies on comprehensive study of what we say and how we say it.

 

Zoe Imani Sharpe is a poet and editor based in Toronto. Her writing has appeared in Sang Bleu Maga- zine, Main Street, Lemonhound, The Puritan, and is forthcoming in The Unpublished City – Volume II. Her chapbook, Sullied, was published by Trapshot Archives in 2011.

To view other content published in this issue, 15:2, please visit Vallum’s website.

Featured Review: Obits. by Tess Liem (Review by Domenica Martinello)

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Congratulations to Tess Liem, Vallum contributor and former employee, for winning the Lampert Memorial Award for a debut book of poetry for her book, Obits.!

OBITS. by Tess Liem
(Toronto, ON: Coach House Books, 2018, $19.94, 88 pages)

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Tess Liem’s Obits. opens with an epigraph from Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric: “There is no innovating loss. It was never invented, it happened as something physical, something physically experienced. It is not something an ‘I’ discusses socially.” It’s such an elucidating way to enter the book that I must open the same door to begin this review.

But before I go further, I notice my use of the word “enter,” as in “to enter the book”—is it invasive? And now I am aware of my own body, the ways of entering it, ‘it’ being “nothing as a reference / to zero where zero means a vulva,” according to a critical gloss of Shakespeare’s sonnets. The speaker in “My body in three movements (one)” continues wryly, “how nice: / one of my body parts, in being nothing, / is some- thing.”

‘Nothing’ is a symbol standing in for an actual, embodied ‘something.’ Zero for vulva, sound bite for tragic death, and so on. But as the speaker demonstrates, it’s easy to get stuck at an intersection between the two. Throughout her stunning debut, Liem’s self-implicating speaker deepens the reader’s awareness of how statistics, data, news footage, obits, even poems themselves, fail to encompass the complicated and physically experienced ‘something’ of grief and death.

“I was concerned that in writing poems for or about the dead I would turn them into objects or tropes in service of my own feelings of loss or loneliness,” Liem elaborates in an author’s note published on the Coach House blog. The speaker in Obits. asserts that “[s]tories about the dead will be about the dead” in an attempt to unburden those lost of the symbolic baggage often foisted upon them. The book also resists the impulse to universalize this most ‘universal’ of experiences—especially in a world where “some lives count & others are counted”. “Call it” puts it another way:

To speak as if we all share the same loveliness, the same doom,

is not to speak

of the fact that some people have their hands

around other’s necks

Many of the poems in Obits. are centre-justified on the page, giving the impression of making direct eye contact with the reader. Interesting, then, that the speaker worries over the possibility of navel-gazing. In “Aesthetic distance” the speaker observes “how I circle back on myself continually” despite the speaker’s attempts to centre others. A distant but formative aunt who died, Thian Hoei, “steps in & out of my memory again, again, my grief, a timid animal.” The speaker’s sadness is especially acute “[w]hen the object of my mourning is missing” // when no obit. is print- ed.” In the case of Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women, not only is there no obit printed; one can even agree on the numbers.

Obits., then, raises the complicated question: is there a line between grief and wallowing, mourning and morbid affixation? Who gets to draw it? Does it have to do with proximity, with kinship? Throughout Obits., the speaker grapples with grief both privately (prostrate on the bedroom floor) and publicly (contemplating Obitsarchive.com while riding the metro), trying to parse its uses and applications. “Aesthetic distance” ends on a frustrated, exclamatory note: “What to make of this sadness! // What does it do!” The speaker wants to use sadness and the experience of trauma to do actual good in the world but is often depressed by the feeling of futility.

That’s not to discount futility on the part of others, often in more unforgivably powerful positions. In the collection’s opening poem “Dead theories,” the news of “forty-nine dead in Orlando” is broadcast in the metro and “a man with platinum hair / & his own TV show / [breaks] down crying reading their names.” Of the forty-nine dead in the Pulse nightclub massacre, the majority were queer latinx people of colour. The man with his own TV show, presumably Anderson Cooper, does have a personal stake in the tragedy. He’s gay—he’s also a rich cis, and white. In response to crying on TV, the speaker again wants to know: “What did that do.” These questions aren’t exactly rhetorical, though Liem’s failure to answer them creates some of the collection’s generative energy.

Also propelling the poems forward is the sense of dailiness created by the backdrop of the metro platform or train, and of course the refrain created by the several “Obit.” poems. Public transportation seems to be the perfect liminal space to contemplate death while implicating the body—crowded in with strangers, touch without intimacy, being moved from one place to another. There’s also the physical proximity to death, as the speaker reminds us while contemplating a poster for an adaptation of Anna Karenina during her commute: “her ending is before you / every morning, every evening, on the platform of the metro.”

Of course, the beauty of Liem’s language (“The mango in one hand, knife in the other, a slick, shrinking yellow sculpture”), the deft motion of her mind, and her keen sense of humour (a self-serious professor who only reads and teaches dead men is, “in the year two-thousand-seventeen, // …still worried about Lady Gaga’s influence”), make a book about death undeniably alive. There is also room for hope and tenderness, a space that almost feels more fraught for Liem than death. The first poem in the book ends, for example, with the speaker admitting: “when I look forward to spring / it feels like a risk,” and the last lines of the book acknowledge: “I’m taking a risk / when I don’t know the dead.” Hope and grief, connected through shared emotional risk.

In fact, I’d say Liem’s willingness to risk failure and implicate herself (and others) so fully is part of what makes Obits. distinct. If there is truly no innovating loss, Liem doesn’t allow herself to simply “[s]tep over the potholed thing” and “[c]all the step a poem.” The speaker in Obits. under- stands that “[t]here is a point at which you must jump into the hole / in order to keep digging,” no matter how dark that hole may be.

Domenica Martinello is the author of All Day I Dream About Sirens (Coach House Book, 2019).

To view other content published in this issue, 16:1, please visit Vallum’s website.