Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hagiography by Jen Currin

Vancouver poet Jen Currin describes a world where ghosts and trees fall to their knees, drunken fish take to the streets, and dresses are made of seaweed. Familiar things take on a strangeness that sort of tickles: "We can be sure of nothing - "

"I live in a watery soup / inside the huge vegetable / where ghosts wash / themselves to witeness." (from "Before the Birds)
"I have three pairs of pants / with which to drive out the moonlight." (from "It Seems")
"The city is always late / and missing its panties. It's best to pretend / we don't know why." (from "Once")
"I become the sudden murderer, / unable to recognize the radishes / of my hands." (from "A Bat Unveiled")
"I'm seeing stars on the stair." (from "Window Music")

Hagiography is divided into sections of Death, Childhood and Birth, with Intermissions in between. Time is not cyclical here - there is instead the sense that everything is happening in the present. Ancestors could be sipping soup at your table. I am both baffled and charmed by these poems. They have the logic of dreams. Sweet dreams.

Currin is one of the poets shortlisted for the Lammys (for her most recent book, The Inquisition Yours). I'll be there (in New York!) at the awards ceremony on May 26th, along with another finalist... my dear Laurie MacFayden.

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