Sunday 28 February 2016

Connie Voisine's Calle Florista (University of Chicago, 2015)

Connie and I are both graduates of the MFA program in creative writing at the University of California, Irvine, and I was glad to have her read to my students Thursday while she's spending her sabbatical in the UK. Here are some favourite passages from her new collection, Calle Florista:

There weren't flowers so much as

cats, at least a hundred, lounging in the neighbor's yard
while the bushes roiled with kittens.

from "Calle Florista"

Maybe the soul isn't a fussy eater--
still, it is ravenous

and expensive, like a defensive lineman.

from "I Admit that I Believe that Ideas Exist Regardless"

The book's perfume lifted as you touched it: must, dead clover, wood smoke. 
Your flesh became silk, limpid, luminous.

from "Annunciation"

The pond wants to be the sun that dumps its sugar on the grass.


The shoe wants to be the buckle that the girl shines with a cloth.
The buckle wants to be the magpie lifting what shines.

from "Testament"

The holy is 
nowhere. Where
the non-fog
waits in the 

end of "After"

And of course night comes on
just as you desired. As do the wild pigs
snuffling in the desert, as do the wolves
spangled with hunger, and the hunger itself 
that lopes through my house.
Your desire is dark,
whoever you are, and igneously
formed by heat.
Cooling, it litters my slopes.

end of "Psalm to Whoever Is Responsible"

There aren't enough doves
in North America to fill
the gondola of you.
Onions are fallible, only
pretending to be infinite....

the opening of "A World's Too Little for Thy Tent,
A Grave Too Big for Me"

This country wakes to turn off the light,
and it's no other dark but yours.

end of "Prayer of the St. of the Hottest Night
in Las Cruces"

Remember, no matter how hard you tried,
there were no proper

shoes for this.

from "In the Shade"

Saturday 20 February 2016

Michelle Detorie's After-Cave (Ahsahta Press, 2014)

Some favourite passages from the book I've just read, Michelle Detorie's first collection, After-Cave. Note I couldn't always recreate her spacing.

These come from the first section, "Fur Birds":

Each of us was asked to speak, and it was with reluctance and kindness that I lied.


We swing and twitch the tune, the lungs brimming.


The body is broken into parts and yet flows together like water.


I am animal; there is no becoming.


Your heart, it's a knot
of flames, a knave
of feathers. In
the dream sea, green
words flex and shiver. 

From the second section, "Feralscape":

A book is a room.
I am a house.


There are so many pink bones
                           in the yellow paper dress
                      a girl wears into the woods. In this story the trees
                           are sentences that blow away.


we sleekly become, without teeth
                              or tongue like
                          seam-ripped frocks:
          silky, frayed, gleaming: a continuance

from the last section, "The Data Is Feminine: After-Cave":

                             Your hair
was yellow then, a spool
of floss wound with light.


No sudden for the wintered.


You tell me that the pyramids were the product of collaboration, innovative project management, but I know already that what made them was slave labor--a capsized river of bones and blood.

The easiest way I found to obtain Detorie's After-Cave in the UK was through Abe Books here.

Wednesday 17 February 2016

Plainwater by Anne Carson (Cape, 1995)

I didn't include any selections from the first section here as they work as brilliant versions of the original Mimnermus fragments. Perhaps I should reconsider. Anyway, here are my favourite passages elsewhere in the manuscript.

From Part II, Short Talks:

You can never know enough, never work enough, never use the infinitives and participles oddly enough, never impede the movement harshly enough, never leave the mind quickly enough.

the end of "Introduction"

Rembrandt wakens you just in time to see matter stumble out of its forms.

the end of "On the End"

From Part III, Canicula di Anna:

The fact that Anna is somewhere 
having coffee or a dream
is an assault on me.
I hate these moments of poverty.


that shines up as a laugh
and smells like blood
is another troublesome,

From Part V, The Anthropology of Water:

...the only rule of travel is, Don't come back the way you went.


It would be an almost perfect love affair, wouldn't it? that between the pilgrim and the road. No mistake, it is a beautiful thing, the camino. It stretches away from you. It leads to real gold. Look at the way it shines. And it asks only one thing. Which happens to be the thing you long to give. You step forward. You shiver in the light. Nothing is left in you but the desire for perfect economy of action, using up the whole heart, no residue, no mistake: camino. 

* drop through a freedom so clear it is simply pain.


Shapes of life change as we look at them, change us for looking.


What are we made of but hunger and rage? 


How surprised I am to be entangled in the knowledge of some other animal.


An entrance is important to a pilgrim: there can be only one.


No photographs--you know what fireworks are like. Tawdry, staggering, irresistible, like human love.


If we strain thought clear of impulse slowly, slowly the day scream subsides to ordered lust.


...a sun-drilled enormity of meadow....


I try to maintain a remote demeanour amid stunning self-accusations.


...little cats go clicking over the snow.

You can order Plainwater from Abe Books here.