Thanks to Bert Almon for the love.
The great strength of the book is not in the apparatus – circuit diagrams, tutelary figures – but in the texture. Queyras employs many forms: prose poems, poems in stanzas, representations of postcards, aphorisms (“All mature poets understand the need for dry wood chips”), found poems, concrete poetry. The tour de force is “Elegy Written in a City Cemetery”: each of its 53 lines paraphrases another poet’s elegy and has a footnote. The sources are extraordinarily wide-ranging, from Tibullus to Coleridge to some of the author’s contemporaries, and she clearly knows the elegiac tradition. Queyras alludes to Anne Carson, whose Nox is also an elegy for a sibling, and one of the most ambitious works of our time. “Anne Carson is a footnote in the biography of death. Few of us get a mention,” she writes. Queyras does deserve her own footnote in the tradition of elegy for this ambitious and moving book.
Read the entire review here.
While Queyras acknowledges the limitations of elegiac poetry, she also recognizes its power as a means of communing with the dead. For all its scientific apparatus, M x T is a book of deep feeling.
Coming in the summer issue. Thanks so much.
Thanks to Paul Franz for this astute review:
The title M×T derives from what Queyras calls “Ohm’s Law of Grieving” (“Feeling = Memory × Time”), one of nine fanciful formulas and mechanical models for representing grief. Crucially, Queyras presents her ambivalence—between the self-contained electric circuit and oceanic openness—as a real one. Her notion of a device that would “prevent an excess of excessive feeling from damaging, i.e., exploding or blasting or otherwise bursting the surface of the physical vessel in which the circuits are housed” is obviously satirical; yet the wish is not simply dismissed. Instead, acknowledging this need deepens the major prose sections’ poignant vulnerability, their yearning for release and control: “Dear One, I am struggling to be in my body, struggling to stay where I am; I want to be closer to my memory of you. I am adrift without it.”
It is a vital work by an increasingly essential Canadian writer.
Read the full review here.
Globe & Mail, April 25th,
The lush vehemence of Sina Queyras’s new poetry collection M x T is as in-your-face as its crazy-pink cover. These poems issue the high-voltage lyric force of mourning songs while bracing themselves against our shuddering in response. Each text is an analogue of how grief convulses through us but – and this is its strength – without any formula to fix grief. There ain’t no cure for loss.
Queyras unspools a collection of gorgeous and cantankerous poems that ask testy questions of all contemporary poets, and for this, the book is a must-read.
Read the full review here.
May 6, 2014 7:00 AM ET
Read the entire profile here.
MxT by Sina Queyras
By Shannon Webb-Campbell
April 25 2014
Nothing is large enough to hold grief. Even language fails to contain it. Sina Queyras proposes a formula for grieving in her latest collection MxT, or Memory x Time, what could be this year’s most devastating and enlightening Canadian poetry collection. Known as Lemon Hound in her online avatar, Queyras is a poet of tremendous weight. Her might is found in every line. In the opening poem, “Water, Water, Everywhere,” she writes, “I don’t want a theory; I want the poem inside me. I want the poem to unfurl like a thousand monks chanting inside me.”
Grief hollows. Loss guts. Queyras’ fragments momentarily alleviate the burden, and offer poetic embodiment. While grief shatters our internal mosaic, Queyras attempts to restore pieces. Gives nourishment. These poems not only mourn the dead, they engage with the unnameable, unknowable ocean of loss. This is memory, divided, categorized and turned over. This is a form becoming a formula. This is poetry at its purest. This is a place to hold, and be held.
Queyras navigates the land mines of memory, death and loss, and shifts perspective with diagrams. Throughout, she invokes conversation with other poets and theorists, eliciting both the engineers of language and science. In several elegies – “Sylvia Plath’s Elegy for Sylvia Plath, Elegy for my Father’s Labour, Elegy for a Lost Brother” etc. – Queyras invites readers to reflect on how the lineage of loss has its own memory, time and feeling. Queyras swims in the pools of theory, only to abandon intellectualism and declare that grief’s unquenchable thirst is emotionality.
Very pleased and honoured by this review from Julie Enzer over at The Rumpus, contextualizing my work in a lineage of feminist poetry that I have long respected, embraced, and nodded at, but never taken on directly as a lineage or as an identity. I should talk about that more some time–why the reticence to something so obvious now. I resist being pigeon-holed in all ways I guess, not just aesthetically. In any case, here is the review. It’s unabashedly positive, something I rarely illicit from reviewers and again, I am thankful for that too. Not all reviews need to leave their little wounds.
‘Poetry succeeds where science fails to measure grief in this brilliant new collection by the esteemed Queyras.’
–Publishers Weekly, Spring Round Up, January 24, 2014
When in doubt, wear lipstick. Also, carefully evaluate ventilation, cables, connectors. Work as closely as possible to the area where remembering is being performed. Apply shades evenly, keep a fresh tube of Chanel on hand.
Use only double insulated gloves. Steel-toed boots. Be sure all ideas are grounded, all equipment disconnected before service. If using auxiliary power be sure to use skin protection of SPF 90 or higher. Do not remember in a windstorm, or heavy rains.
For chance encounters, touch the back of her knee.
Never touch the knee with an electrode. Never lift a memory with a body attached. Lightly apply scent before leaving the house, understand that the past is an aphrodisiac: always keep it upright, out of inclement weather, away from all explosives or corrosives, chained to a firm support.
Read the entire poem here.