Fredericton - The City Series: Number Two.
Rebecca Salazar, Editor. Shane Neilson, Series Editor. Frog Hollow Press. Victoria, British Columbia. 2015.
Fredericton is from Frog Hollow Press and is the second volume of this very promising series. You might remember that Today's book of poetry looked at Vancouver - The City Series: Number One back in November of 2015. Michael Prior was the editor and Vancouver cooked.
You can see Today's book of poetry's blog on Vancouver here:
The basic premise of this series is to take a quick look at new and emerging writers, ten from each city, each poet gets two pages to strut their stuff. Shane Neilson is the Series Editor and he is making some smart choices. Rebecca Salazar is the Editor for Fredericton and she clearly has her finger on the pulse of the place. Fredericton punches way above its weight. For such a small place, Salazar offers us up a championship menu, these poets are contenders.
A Moment On the Lips
My boyfriend holds me by my ex-lover's
genitals. The waistband of my leggings
makes my mother's nipples itch.
When I kissed its insides, curious,
the freezer split my lip, but I will bury
it with me one day in my grave.
Who needs tattoos? I'm hip-swathed
with chip packets and gum wrappers,
evangelical pamphlets and sandwhich
coupons. The liver spots that dotted
my late grandfather's IV-pierced hand
ink my midriff like a galaxy. On the subway,
the ladies I'm crammed next to look
less impressed than they should be,
dipping their hips in the Pacific I once
kissed so you might taste the sound
of whales when I returned. When I dance,
a skirt of plankton swirls around me
in a balm millennia sediment-packed
to keep my lips slick. Thanks to history,
to my best decisions cinched around me
like a child's leash. Thank you grandma
for that eight-shaped, candy-studded cake
with all those gilded chocolate dollars
on the top that I sucked clean. Now I am
spangled and frosted at the waistline.
I'm the nucleus in a probability storm
of all my charged encounters.
Go ahead. Just try to shower me.
~KATIE FEWSTER-YAN grew up in Toronto. She is currently living, writing and studying in Fredericton.
Katie Fewster-Yan gets the whole rollicking show started with a couple of very polished bitter-sweet narratives. Fewster-Yan's second poem "This Little Piggy" is equally sharp, pretty much cut you open on contact.
Rebecca Salazar must have done some serious homework, scouring of Fredericton streets, hanging out in all the grottoes, Fredericton is a small city of about 60,000 but these ten strong poets seem to defy the odds. There really shouldn't be this many good young poets in such a small place.
It was a breakup full of pathetic fallacy.
Every fish belly up in the tank.
Even Halfred, my favourite frog,
was a grey spectre floating
in the speckled water.
The glow-in-the-dark Jesus
I bought him from St. Joseph's Oratory
stood in the centre of the tank
glowing like toxic waste.
The furnace seized. My teeth chattered
under four thick blankets and a
monstrous sweater with a beaver
knitted on the back.
To top it off, Mary, your dearly
beloved cat, was dying.
On the last night of my visit,
after two weeks of drinking and fighting,
I got hammered and hit on your
best friend. When we were passed out,
you suffocated Mary, to save her suffering
the same slow death of us all.
We cremated her in the backyard, and
I puked beside a tree in the burnt fur smoke.
Flames were leaping out of her open mouth.
5am and a bottle of Tia Maria.
Everything as still as her wasted teeth.
~LISA JODOIN's poems have appeared in The Antigonish Review, Matrix, Prarie Fire, and in a recently released anthology of Thunder Bay, Ontario writers called Fuel. She currently live in Fredericton with two very endearing Boston Terriers.
Our morning read here in the Today's book of poetry offices was an entirely solo effort this morning. Freezing rain has stopped everyone in their poetic tracks and I was in the office alone today. Being alone in the office means I get to listen to music I like. Right now I'm listening to Lee Fields, "Honey Dove." Today's book of poetry read Fredericton out loud and knew Lee Fields would have appreciated it. Today's book of poetry liked Fredericton enough that we may ask if we can just call her "Fred."
If you are a fan of the big narrative lead you're in high cotton here. Maybe it is being so close to the ocean that brings out the story-teller, regardless, Salazar has rounded them up and let them loose here.
For Later Use
You've been collecting things for a long time:
exotic spices, herbs alien to your palate,
sinewy textures, savoury broths,
and you've been trying to build a contraption
to cook this damn recipe you haven't yet named.
You struggle to fit together the pieces,
the gears, pulleys, smothers of rope,
fuel lines, elements, and primitive spears topped with sulfur.
You thought you could work backwards from the prototype,
but now a puzzle litters your workshop floor,
and the recipe rots its constituents.
You find yourself waking up
far from where you thought you went to bed,
and if it's a room you've slept in before,
what's left at your feet seems nothing like what you gathered:
flower petals, loose bits of string, photographs of strangers,
and albums you never really understood the appeal of.
You dial a number you find amid the debris,
but the line's been disconnected.
Some days you escape your clutter,
and just wander around the neighbourhood,
determined not to hoard anything for later use,
but when you stop to make sure you're not lost,
you find your pockets full of receipts.
Maybe if you run fast enough
the world will become a gluey blob.
Maybe if you quit moving completely,
the grass won't grow either.
On days when you can't help
but wander into the pawn shop,
you always seem to find yourself asking
what the cashier would look like without her glasses on.
~NOAH PAGE is an Honours English student at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. He has published with Calliope Magazine, was a featured reader at Odd Sundays at Molly's in Fredericton, and was the recipient of the W.S. Carter Memorial Prize in 2013.
Today's book of poetry has nothing but applause for the Frog Hollow Press City Series project. We are hoping to see an unending list of Canadian communities included in this series over time. It is apparent that there are poetic riches in every corner of the country,
In other news, my love, the car has started
making a sound. It has all the qualities of song.
A ticked crescendo keeps time with the crawl
of government and bank traffic, predicts a little
accident. The afternoon coagulates, dribbles
a circumference of poles. Overhead, a wedge of geese
glides south, their shadows slim kayaks on bleached cement.
No idling in the jam for them: their past is sloughed by
movements practiced as a vestal's sidelong glance.
At home, garlic from China sprouts green blades.
We can't bring ourselves to eat it: origins too remote.
Our roots are as, or more far-flung, for all we know.
Still, we got at each other like wolves.
~JENNIFER HOULE is originally from Shediac, N.B., she has published in journals including The Fiddlehead, Arc, Carousel, Dandelion, CV2, Prarie Fire, and Room. She has won the Writer's Federation of New Brunswick's 2011 Alfred G. Bailey award for best unpublished manuscript and The Antigonish Review's 2009 Great Blue Heron poetry prize.
As an aside Today's book of poetry wants to share a particular pleasure we had this past week. From time to time I get called in to the Art Bank to work in the frame shop and that's where I found myself a couple of days ago. One of the items I framed up was a letter from Poet/Saint Leonard Cohen that he had written from Hydra, Greece, many years ago. Wouldn't you know it, he was broke.
Today's book of poetry is hoping to return to regularly scheduled service soon.
ABOUT THE EDITOR
REBECCA SALAZAR is a poetry editor for The Fiddlehead and managing editor of Qwerty Magazine. She was recently awarded The Malahat Review's Open Season poetry prize, and her writing also appears or is forthcoming in Lemon Hound, Poetry is Dead, and CV2. She is orginally from Sudbury, Ontario.