Sina Queyras

if you open your mouth, ache.


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Reviews, Reviews, Reviews

I am rich in reviews and so thankful for the close reading! The Bullcalf, Arc Magazine and The Kenyon Review. Ben Purkert makes a case for the elegy as selfie. Not what I intended, but he makes a compelling case.

Not all elegies, however, are necessarily selfless. Some are self-addressed. Sina Queyras’s M x T (Coach House Books, 2014) levels with the reader: “There will be no one to write an elegy for me and so I am writing my own now, I want you to keep up with me. I want you to feel the way the wind holds a bird.” Written in response to a series of deaths in the poet’s immediate family, M x T is a work of deep despair. Overwhelmed with mourning (“Water, water everywhere, my dead ones…”), Queyras confronts her sorrow with intense interiority: “I am not interested in what Bourdieu, or Kristeva, has to say about grief…. 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. I want the poem to skewer me, to catapult me into the clouds.” With titles like “Sylvia Plath’s Elegy for Sylvia Plath,” M x T turns the mechanism of elegy on itself.

Read the entire review here. Also read Jessi MacEachern and Stephen Brockwell who ask some compelling questions. Thanks to everyone. An honor.


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Twitter Reviews of MxT


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MRB on MxT

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.


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Rain Taxi on MxT

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.


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Malahat Review on MxT

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.

 

 


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Globe & Mail on MxT

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.

and

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.