Follow Harriet on Twitter
Matrix, one, two
The latest issue of Matrix, a Montreal magazine, just slid across my desk. I love when I open a magazine and am taken by a poem. In this case two poems, by two different poets. One begins, “I am speaking to you from the bottom of a well,” and it’s a refreshing use of the “I,” in this case, a direct address, but also a mysterious turn, a series of statements and questions: “Did you know a willow sapling has sprung/ from my spine?” and later, “The sapling will not make it.” I have to confess that the poet, Lise Gaston, is a former student of mine, but that isn’t why it stopped me. It stopped me because it was so direct: a clean line between the speaker and my own, suddenly vulnerable, spine.
The other surprise were poems from Chandra Mayor, a Winnipeg poet (how many times do you read that on Harriet?). This is a cheeky series, light and brisk: “The Poetess Shakes her Substantial Finger At The Pre-Raphalites,” “The Poet Sings To Dead Men,” and “The Poet Uneasily Allies With The Audience Against The Comic…”. The latter a poem in two halves: “The Terrible work of laughing: the ache/ in the abdomen…” begins the first half, then “oh, the terrible work we demand of others: that they make us laugh…”. And “oh, you lovely dead/ boys. No chance/ for you now to answer/ back…” “we love you so much more when you die…”