The Corpses of the Future
From Lynn Crosbie,
House of Anansi, 143 pages, $19.95
From Erin Robinsong,
BookThug, 96 pages, $18
The Corpses of the upcoming, Lynn Crosbie’s new poetry collection, is equally unswerving in honesty and high in effect. This makes for a reading experience that is dangerous and essential by distilling the blows dealt through her father dementia. At one stage, a young Crosbie interjects: “Dad, why won’t you get better?” But there’s not any coming back from Dad’s bewildered place, a place Crosbie can “access only through the parole of dreams and lies and poetry”
Crosbie’s works always reject perceived expectations, like Liar, Life is About Losing Everything, and Queen Rat. In her latest, Crosbie enables language loose upon itself. She calls this book a conversation with her father to understand him in his relationship with life, family and language. Nevertheless, the reader will find more: a burnishing of confusion and tragedy . The eponymous poem of the collection, for example, much like the book, is a repository of the ways that the woundedness of a father is contained by words however, concurrently, refuses the constraints of language’s grief. The jagged language of Crosbie’s father contributes to the publication, humour and a richness that refine a lot of the tragedy.
The story of the fall of Douglas Crosbiethat cure and doctors failed to detect punctually — wrenches. In The Doctors in Section, she writes that she needs to “bag them and abandon them on the curb with the expressed request that they never be returned they burn metal cans that older men abrade their hands over, elementally,/ having changed something useless into glowing, palliative fire.” This is the brilliance rebellious of categorization of Crosbie: castigation is expected by the reader and ends up discovering grace.
Crosbie’s despair is intimate and deep like the book reads equally like a last love letter and a devastating portrait of a stricken man — a father who, when younger, voiced his desire for “peace and quiet for his birthday” and a “desire to live like Napoleon/… exiled in silence on my Elba” (that was a ship in Curacao where the family once lived). You’d need to be half-dead or worse to not weep, rejoice and anger when the speakers of those poems take you to the border and provide “some faint, nevertheless powerful memories, of love and mercy” as salve.
Erin Robinsong’s Rag Cosmology is an ecstatic rumination on the primal and cosmic self, whose ecology is a crypt of speech in a sound-scape given by thinkers from Homer to Bernadette Mayer. The job of “words we are making as presents” is an invitation for the reader to wander through a cosmology of fragments, toward bettering an intimacy with “the green” — six poems trying to show a place where “everything felt possible” Section of Robinsong’s miracle is how seamlessly she involves the reader in this “anthology of fantasies” without taking into the pulpit. Here, the poems have a tendency to do as they please — a few contained from the classic poetic line are apparent in their involvement with a huge lineage of eco-poetics, while some who enact the exact human-world interactions of Robinsong’s obsessions are scattered about the page, both belligerent and inescapable.
This introduction explores an intimacy of identities rhythmic and sensual, as crazy as the cosmos. Our species’ troubled relationship with our “landlocked […] stock” appears to curse at frequent human instincts to construct “an empire in the/ bodies of everything.” The speakers at these poems are desperate to be anywhere long enough for things to “not lose their worth as they will […] a wealth without end.” However, the performance of poetry of Robinsong allows us move like water or air taking inventory of the ways. Poems like Polygon 4357632 riff on the word “timber” in a dizzying performance of deforestation creating a sort of negotiated disaster. You may also read this distress, not but.
Rag Cosmology ‘s lively lines vacillate from jazz to blues to ballad and the beats: a hot-tempered, constantly sensual and unexpected shuffle. Poems echo innovators such as Saul Williams. Her diction helps all this to make a reading experience that was radical. Pages are littered by poems on bodies of water such as debris. Still, phrases such as “red craftsman” referring to oceans undercut the urgency of some poems, particularly against lines such as “a demanding place/ holds/ all possible help/ trained as leaves and blossoms” Robinsong’s trail through her Rag Cosmology remains in the religion of a busy world where “any woods can be forced to march,” and it is through this rogue voice that the reader is encouraged to move past “light ourselves on fire” into Robinsong’s “photographic mouth,” which reminds: “really, you die into existence.”
Both collections catalog both bond with time, love and loss, and displacement, life to be contained by the limits of language. If the reader is willing to dare, what’s found in these pages may provide new frontiers for itself up.
Canisia Lubrin’s first collection of poems, Voodoo Hypothesis, will be released this autumn.
Review: Lynn Crosbie’s The Corpses of the Future and the Rag Cosmology explore time, loss and love of Erin Robinsong