Monday, April 2, 2018

Stray - Allison LaSorda (Icehouse Poetry/Goose Lane Editions)

Today's book of poetry:
Stray.  Allison LaSorda.  Icehouse Poetry/Goose Lane Editions.  Fredericton, New Brunswick.  2017.

Stray

"Listen, I would never Jolene your man."
                                                                                                          Fluid Dynamics

Stray does some remarkable maneuvering with the tic, tac, toe of our daily grind.  It's not that Allison LaSorda is seeing a different world from the rest of us but she is certainly seeing a different set of possibilities.

One of the things I have discovered writing all these blogs/reviews is that with certain poets you can see in their first poem -- they are smarter than you and there is nothing you can do about it but to enjoy it.  Take Allison LaSorda, but first a generalization about Alison/Allisons, every Allison I've ever met was smart like a great detective and LaSorda doesn't let the Allison side down.  Our British cousin Alison, same thing.  Even Elvis Costello knows this to be true

Elver

Hook an eel and reel it in. It wraps around my hand
and constricts like a boa. My cousin yells to hurry,
get the lure out -- but the muscle, the persistence grips.

For the past week I've been visiting. I hug people,
see them pause to sculpt an answer.
Someone concedes they last saw me at a funeral.

Blueberries wither in an old ice cream bucket.
Things grow faster than I remember; I eat quickly.

Clouds look different, more cheerful.
Ancestors made nuisances of themselves here, casting
their nets, planting, skills that have long left my blood.

A high school friend tours me around the valley sites:
the pig farm he can't afford will be developed;
this used to be that. The drive makes me ravenous.

Stay in his childhood bedroom. He tells me he used to open
a drawer to lock himself in when he got in trouble.
I open the drawer while I undress.

...

LaSorda is quiet like a thought until she unloads the hammer.  Stray is just so much fun to roll around in your brain while you savour the tasty bits.  And there are tasty bits in every bite.

Read a poem from Stray out loud to K last night and her eyes opened real wide.  I knew they would.  when LaSorda takes off the gloves it is all business, bruises be damned, and what entertaining business it is.  Lasorda is playful like a cat with your poetry mouse and you all know how that story ends.

Today's book of poetry risks the lament of the broken record but LaSorda's Stray is the entire reason we are in the poetry blog/review business.  Stray was a seriously hampered read simply because after almost every poem I had to get up and do the "great poem dance."  Most good poetry titles limit themselves to a few golden dance tracks, LaSorda had me jumping out of my comfortable reading bed like I was dancing at a RockaBilly K Dj'd Peterborough house party.

Glory Days

I quit music for Lent, but sighed
so loud a tune came out.

See, I can never tell
how I want things to be.
That's why I'm unlovable
or at least hard to please.

I want every song sung by Springsteen.
I need a boss for my home life.

Sketch me the monuments
I tried to forget. Let's meet halfway
in a green card marriage, so I can swaddle
my bouncing baby boys to Born in the U.S.A.

I figure Bruce dreams the same
way he sings, plainly, earnestness
drawn out so clear I am embarrassed
by my secrecy, by all his feelings,
eyes closed for the good parts.
There's a dream there
and I've earned my slice.

...

Allison LaSorda sneaks up behind you, quietly as before mentioned mouse, with her emotional billy club and that's all she wrote.

Our morning read was sensational.  If we were a jazz band, and everyone on the Today's book of poetry staff secretly thinks they are a legit nighthawk at the diner Charlie Parker/John Coltrane gypsy jazz rat chef, today would have been one of our best all-star jams.

Otis, back from Sicily, almost blew the lid off of the place with his usual nuanced narrative dancing LaSorda home with charm, grace, panache and a revealing of  LaSorda's subtle and almost secret intimacy.

The End of Grief

When the end of grief was announced
the houses on our street
slouched until all were lopsided.
Those of us who dwell
on the mysteries of our dead
wedge our bodies into the foundations.
We want as long as possible to figure out
what might be beautiful about loss.
The river rushes anew,
water so opaque it looks
pleated. We want clothing
that hangs as loose as river.
Knock on the underside
of floors but nobody answers --
this, too, is a sign. The houses
heave with our pulses.
Children whisper through dirt
that since the declaration
and resultant slanting of their beds,
they only dream of flying.
We feel sorry for them.
Our dreams do the chores.
They self-repair, dig trenches,
throw leaves into gutters clogged
with competing impulses:
eke out consolation
in what's fixed, or hazard
the pang of stranger gravity.

...

Allison LaSorda will make your poetry day or Today's book of poetry will refund your money.  This isn't an offer we make often, knowing how whim wants cash, but it is a promise.

We know when a cat can burn and LaSorda's Stray will have you running to her poetry kitchen all night long.

 Image result for allison lasorda photo

Allison LaSorda

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Allison LaSorda grew up in Campbellville, Ontario, and, after some years in the Maritimes, now lives in Toronto. A recipient of scholarships from the Banff Centre Writing Studio and the Vermont Studio Center, she holds an MFA from the University of Guelph. Her work has appeared in PANK Magazine, PRISM international, Brick, Riddle Fence, the Malahat Review, the Fiddlehead, and others.

BLURBS
"Keats spoke of a heightened aesthetic state which, as I understand it, sees apparently contradictory hopes and fears as inseparable. Allison LaSorda’s shining debut never strays far from that vital, difficult, human work. There’s tough talk here, but also compassion, clarity, love, and humour. Listen and learn." 
     — Kevin Connolly

"‘There may not be enough light for all of us,’ warns Allison LaSorda in this moody, shadowy collection, but what light she finds — in language and landscape — she holds warily aloft for all to see. In poems that reflect upon layers of memories among people and places, LaSorda often conveys a sense of weariness or resignation, but the liveliness of her thinking casts just enough light to make the shadows dance. Her readers will be moved — and enchanted." 
     — Heather Christle


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