Winner of a 2007 Lambda Literary Award!
If you open your mouth, ache. If you don’t open your mouth, swelter. If you open your mouth but hold your breath, ether. If you look for colour, coral and tea leaves. If you follow the moon, wet and concrete. If you cling to the earth, pistol and candy apple. If you give up your garden, maze and globe, hydrangeas and moon vines. If you lose your shoes, pumice and strain. If you have no money, tin and clang.
As meditative practices focus on the axis of breath, these poems focus on the moment of action, of thought, on the flux of speech.
This is a poetry not of snapshots or collages but of long-exposed captures of the not-so-still lives of women. One sequence imagines Virginia Woolf’s childhood; another unmakes her novel The Waves by attempting to untangle its six overlapping narratives. Yet another, ‘On the Scent,’ makes us flâneurs through the lives of a series of contemporary women, while ‘The River Is All Thumbs’ uses a palette of vibrant repetition to ‘paint’ a landscape.
Queyras’s language – astute, insistent, languorous – repeats and echoes until it becomes hypnotic, chimerical, almost halluncinatory in its reflexivity. How lyrical can prose poetry be? How closely can it mimic painting? Sculpture? Film? How do we make a moment firm? These ‘postmodern,’ ‘postfeminist’ poems pulse between prose and poetry: the line, the line, they seem to ask, must it ever end?
‘The poems of Sina Queyras's Teethmarks sprawl across the space of the book like clothes scattered across the floor of a messy room. You can enter, pick something up, hold it up to your chest, and see if you like it. Queyras welcomes you into the room of a poem [and] asks you to make yourself comfortable.’ – The Georgia Straight