Thursday, August 17, 2017

Yes or Nope - Meaghan Strimas (Mansfield Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Yes or Nope.  Meaghan Strimas.  A Stuart Ross Book.  Mansfield Press.  Toronto, Ontario.  2016.
Trillium Book Award Winner


Yes or Nope.  Easy question.  We say an emphatic yes.  So did the Trillium Book Award.  Meaghan Strimas made us laugh, smirk, guffaw, chortle and giggle before we finished the enchanting Yes or Nope.  She also broke our heart, kicked our shin and left some dishes in the sink.

Today's book of poetry writes these blogs by hand and when I do I jot down the page numbers of the poems I figure you, the audience/reader, can't do without.  I like to share as much as I can, all you regular readers know this.  The first poem in Yes or Nope arrives on page 11, the last poem is on page 61.  Here is today's page list of essential Strimas poems:

13, 16, 19, 20, 26, 33, 34, 36, 39, 42, 43, 54, 56.

Some of her poems stretch to two pages.  What Today's book of poetry is clumsily trying to say is that almost every poem in this collection was something we thought you should see.  Meaghan Strimas just sets 'em up and knocks 'em down with an endless succession of witty and surprising ruptures of logic until nothing else but her dark and daring sensibility makes sense.

Clean

My neighbour is the King of Clean. He wears his striped sports
socks up to his knees. I like things clean, he says. His wife
agrees: he likes things clean. It's the way he likes it. He likes to
be clean. He drags his power washer across his cement yard,
cursing at it, as if it were an obstinate poodle. But he loves it
the same as his Pekinese. Some days he runs a clean river: a
torrent of hose water streams down his lane and into the sewer.
I can hear the ants screaming, swept up by the current and
taken away. Poor souls. My grandmother, long gone, said she
married her husband because he was a clean man. Clean nails.
Clean pecker. Clean bum. There are so many things I never
wanted to know. And now you know, too. It's much better this
way: we have clarity. We are friends.

...

Yes or Nope is "a Stuart Ross Book" and you all know what we think of Mr. Ross here.  He really does have the Midas poetry touch.  Strimas and Ross are an excellent match and this book proves it. Strimas isn't exactly strange, the reader grows to know/understand/embrace Strimas logic fairly quickly, but she isn't the least bit shy about being playful.

Today's book of poetry applauds Meaghen Strimas for her rambunctious heart and hard as nails Geiger counter of truth.

You regular readers of Today's book of poetry will remember that we are particularly fond of list poems.  Strimas gives us a list poem, a rhymer, thrown into the mix as though she knew we were coming.

Nonsense Poem, or I Like

I like the fact that the light just turned green,
and I like the expression "creamin' in her jeans."

I like the seagull who just shit on my head,
and I like the mongrel who's only playing dead.

I like the secretary who says vanilla, not manila,
and I like the paperweight shaped like a gorilla.

I like the coarseness, the smell of a horse's mane,
I like the careerist who desires a little fame.

I like living, but I don't like feeling lost, and I like
the daffodils--insistent, resilient in the frost.

...

Yes or Nope went over better than the ice-cream truck at this morning's read.  Strimas hits just the right temperature to get the engines running.  

Strimas has a killer sense of humour but she never lets it intrude on the plot.  

Butterfly Unit Two: Goodbye

The mother
brought
a crate
of small
white cartons
to the celebration
of what
should have
been
his first
birthday.
Inside each,
a live butterfly
waiting to be
freed.
We were
to release
each,
but got
talking. Maybe
we forgot,
for a spell,
why we
were there
at all.
Perhaps,
it was
just easier
to pretend
that we
were happy.
When 
she finally
opened
the cardboard
flaps,
the monarchs
did not 
move.
I poked 
one with my
index finger:
it was stiff.
So 
we took
each
and lay
then,
one by one,
beneath
the base
of the oldest
tree, where,
from a distance
they looked 
like fallen leaves.

...

Today's book of poetry admires Meaghan Strimas's grit.  She doesn't seem to have any trouble at all waiting until she sees the whites of our eyes.

Image result for Meaghan strimas photo
Meaghan Strimas

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Meaghan Strimas is the author of two previous collections of poetry and the editor of The Selected Gwendolyn MacEwen. She teaches writing at Humber College and is a managing editor at The Hunter Literary Review. She lives in Toronto with her family.

BLURBS
“The poetry in Yes or Nope is whip-smart and tenderhearted, funny and alive—Strimas at her brilliant best. I didn’t want it to end.”
     —Zoe Whittall, author of The Best Kind of People
“Wry and furious, scathing and saucy, Meaghan Strimas tells the stories about us you always feared were true. Stuck through with charming moments, but make no mistake: these poems have no time for the lies we tell ourselves. Yes or Nope is bone-sharp, bang-up, revelatory—a pupil-dilating meditation on growing up and growing old female. This is a book to keep at your bedside, like a flashlight; a book that will keep you safe, and whisper: You are not alone.”
      —Elisabeth de Mariaffi, author of The Devil You Know



Meaghan Strimas performs at Words Aloud 9
Video: Words Aloud


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