Author Archive

(Canadian) Sunday Service: Sara Peters poem

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

NOTE: Canadian poetry! For no particular reason, I am taking over Melissa Broder’s column for the month of the October to spotlight poems by contemporary Canadian writers. Today’s poet is Sara Peters, whose (beautiful, delicate, lucid) debut collection, 1996, was published last Spring by House of Anansi (see The Rumpus’ review).

Winter Jewelry

She was thirty-four,
.. . .. .  she’d recently chopped off her right index finger

and she came to my high school for recess and lunch.
.. . .. .  I felt her before I saw her:

she ran her hand down my spine
.. . .. .  It happened so fast I had no time to pose.

Nothing felt better to me
.. . .. .  than being touched possessively,

without having to touch someone back.
.. . .. .  She’d pull my braid, pick lint off my sweater,

smooth my eyebrows, all while explaining
.. . .. .  saffron and fisting and France.

Once, she tightened my scarf
.. . .. .  and we drove to her rented cabin, until the road stopped

and we were walking through snow
.. . .. .  falling at inaudible frequencies.

She sang something under her breath
.. . .. .  (she said it was nothing I knew),

striding ahead in unlaced boots, her jacket flapping open.
.. . .. .  She wore so many layers, I’d never been able to tell

the actual size of her body, beyond the occasional ankle or wrist
.. . .. .  breaking the surface. Around her the stars spun like tops:

tops I knew she could pause with her fingertip.
.. . .. .  When we arrived,

she lit twenty tea lights and vanished.
.. . .. .  Then animals began to emerge.

Two patchy dogs from the couch,
.. . .. .  while in one corner, something nursed on something else.

There was a mirror
.. . .. .  the size of a record jacket, and in it I saw her

walking out of the bathroom toward me,
.. . .. .  her bandage half unrolled: the wound was startling.

I opened my beer and watched
.. . .. .  as the foam ran down my hand and wrist

and she flew—it seemed—to my side,
.. . .. .  knelt, took the bottle, and said

Put your mouth on it
.. . .. .  and when I bent she laughed

as a cat dropped down near her knee,
.. . .. .  from what seemed a great height, though it couldn’t be.

Sara Peters was born in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. She completed an MFA at Boston University, and was a Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford University from 2010 to 2012. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Daily, The Threepenny Review, and The Walrus. She lives in Toronto.

“Winter Jewelry” from 1996 by Sara Peters, copyright 2013. Reproduced with permission from House of Anansi Press, Toronto. www.houseofanansi.com.

(Canadian) Sunday Service: Andrew Faulkner poem

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

NOTE: Canadian poetry! For no particular reason, I am taking over Melissa Broder’s column for the month of the October to spotlight poems by contemporary Canadian writers. Today’s poet is Andrew Faulkner, whose (rad) debut collection, Need Machine, was published last Spring by Coach House.

Acknowledge Your Sources

It was a sky-draped year. We collected data like habits,
stockpiled information to have something to look into.
We were all about identity. Our primary theme was abstraction –

I know, right? With small words we touched it, and with big words
we brought it home. At a right-wing party’s office, a bomb explodes.
At a leftist rally, something something. It was the year Heidegger

walked among us and seemed especially deep. Like, at the bottom.
A little red light signalled some really important shit.
As a gift to individualism, I eschewed the individual.

As a gift to myself, I learned to hail a cab like a flower
bending towards the newly departed. We kissed strangers,
stayed up late, depended on discipline to save the day.

That summer Justin Bieber insinuated himself into your heart
like an undercover agent. The Insurgencies of Love topped all
the charts. It was a good year for wanting and my stocks did well.

But you thought I’d gone all art deco in the mind
and the four-roomed apartment we’d claimed as ours
was a little too …something for you.

You were raging for pastels. You wanted to move. So we spent
those eighteen months in a mid-sized European city whose transit
map, when crumpled, resembled a once-popular cognitive theory.

We tried to avoid cancer like the plague.
We wanted a sky the colour of a painting,
any painting, just something you don’t have to think about.

One Saturday God went out, left us $20 for pizza
and said He’d be back in the morning.
The point was that we could have done anything.

Friends stood before us like a porchlight that night
and we fought over who would ring the doorbell.
You began writing letters to Jennifer Aniston

but in a really, like, political way.
As in, between two people.
Dear, no one’s mind is right.

But then you left exactly how all the sad songs said you would
and I moved into a hotel the way a fastball chooses the mitt
it’s tossed to: the glove’s there and there’s throwing to be done.

For a while, the world was everything in my suitcase.
The morning rose up like a Parisian mob, made unreasonable
demands, then settled in for an afternoon coffee. Or café, as they say.

In terms of currently accepted physics I was pretty fucking sad.
There were birds. I made my heart into the shape of the moon,
or perhaps it was the other way around,

but you must have seen my longing in the sky
because you came back. God helps those He really likes,
as Benjamin Franklin used to say.

I was coming down with something.
Beset with symptoms, I gave up style with panache.
That is: with panache, I gave up style. I tied my tie up tight.

Is there a doctor in the house? Drumroll, punchline, drumfill.
But, seriously, is there?
Because I’m finding it hard to breathe.

Andrew Faulkner co-curates The Emergency Response Unit, a chapbook press. He is the author of two chapbooks, including Useful Knots and How To Tie Them, which was shortlisted for the bpNichol Chapbook Award. Need Machine (Coach House Books, 2013) is his first full-length collection. He lives in Marmora, Ontario.

(Canadian) Sunday Service: Laura Broadbent poem

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

NOTE: Canadian poetry! For no particular reason, I am taking over Melissa Broder’s column for the month of the October to spotlight poems by contemporary Canadian writers. Today’s poet is Laura Broadbent, whose (sharp, funny, underated) debut collection, Oh There You I Can’t See You Is It Raining?, was published late last year by Invisible Publishing.

Oh There You Are I Can’t See You Is It Raining?

1.
Supple with incoherence, I have not
learned how to people myself.
Lose any hope. Above all, lose any hope.

2.
I’ve never enjoyed a party in my life.
The meaning of this hits a little too deep.
The only women for me live a tonal complexity.

3.
The biggest fact about anyone is their mother.
I know this is getting a little complicated.

4.
Art school students love art school students.
There is something unutterably terrible
About art school students.

5.
He likes it when my nails are short and clean.
Since it’s love there’s nothing easy about it
so I threw my wine glass at him.
Old wounds and their flatulence.

6.
No one told me it was problematic to be a woman
until I started getting treated like one.
I Googled ‘Why are all Aquarius men jerks?’
I wasn’t the first.

7.
When I try to describe you
my mouth gets an E for Effort.
I invite you for a dip and you think
its an invitation to drowning.
Find some bearings
then ostensibly learn to keep them.

8.
Obligatory fun is ostensibly fun.
The project of the intellectuals.
Don’t open an intellectual
unless you want to be killed.

9.
To lose those I love most.
What other lessons are there –
how to make a perfect gazpacho?
I still believe in forces.

10.
Anger is one of my charming knacks.
Also panic for no discernable reason.
I remember things with my whole body.
Men like it when I ostensibly behave.

11.
Supple with incoherence
Art school students are
terrible
at making the perfect
gazpacho.

12.
Obligatory fun gets an E
for Effort. When you’ve lost
those you love most,
your only hope is in
charming knacks.

13.
The biggest fact is a little complicated.
So throw your wine glass at it
then clean your nails and Google
‘ostensible women.’

14.
I invited you for a dip
then you treat me like a woman.
Google: ‘old wounds
AND tonal complexity.’

15.
Getting killed: obligatory fun.
No need to get all emotional
and intellectual about it.

16.
The project of the intellectuals:
the terrible fact of
women and flatulence.

17.
Everyone’s mother is problematic
trying to do something about
feeling unloved.

18.
Art school students’ projects are parties.
Be on guard for the projects of art students

19.
Men like when my whole body
is ostensible.

20.
Remembering things
is an invitation to drowning.

Laura Broadbent was raised in Stratford, Ontario and has resided in Montreal since 2005. Her first book of poetry Oh There You Are I Can’t See You Is It Raining? (Invisible Publishing, 2012) won the 2012 Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry.

(Canadian) Sunday Service: Jon Paul Fiorentino poem

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

NOTE: Canadian poetry! For no particular reason, I will be taking over Melissa Broder’s column for the month of the October to spotlight poems by contemporary Canadian writers. Today’s poet is Jon Paul Fiorentino, whose latest (and also, I feel, career-best) collection, Needs Improvement, was just published by Coach House.

It still means fuck all to me

Write of the solitary fence post
of the day you heard the incantatory wisdom of birds of Alberta
and how the peculiar birdsong of the tundra swan once set your
spirit free

Write of the struggles of your fathers
of the linguistic imperatives that shackle you and keep you from
articulating the particularities of non-heteronormative and
alternative identities

Write of the land and how it’s shaped you
of the small things like the footsteps you hear when you wish
to hear nothing and the incomprehensible strangeness of being
and exactly what you have gleaned

Write of the day that you lost her
of the day that you lost him and everything collapsed into
emblems and metaphors and similes and other tropes blending
into the cruellest and sharpest unit of metonomy

Write of the city that you left there
of the Winnipeg half-jokes, the myth-making memos, the spray
paint and solvents, the cult of new money, the rebuild and letdown,
the angst of personae, the collective of lonely

Jon Paul Fiorentino is the author of the novel Stripmalling, which was shortlisted for the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction, and several poetry collections, including Indexical Elegies, which won the 2010 CBC Book Club “Bookie” Award for Best Book of Poetry. He lives in Montreal, where he teaches writing at Concordia University and edits Matrix magazine.

Can’t understand reality: thoughts on & excerpts from The Sugar Frosted Nutsack.

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

 

This is probably just me, but I keep misreading the title as, ‘The Sugar Frosted Nutshack.’ Feels like my brain is trying to auto-correct, ‘Sugar’ and, ‘Sack’ into, ‘Sugar Shack.’

Nutsack. (more…)

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Students/Teachers: Do you remember reading a story or poem by someone in your creative writing workshop and being truly amazed by it?

Who wrote it? What was interesting or peculiar about it?

I am enthusiastic about boredom

Monday, April 9th, 2012

My friend Maya told me about this guy who tried to hit on her by making fun of her weight and then kicking her under the table.

I said, ‘That’s an interesting strategy, I always wondered if a strategy like that would work.’

Then I thought about my own strategy, which generally involves waiting for something to happen and not forcing things on the other person.

I felt like my strategy was fucking stupid and just as terrible as that other guy’s. (more…)