Floating is Everything. Sheryda Warrener. Nightwood Editions. Gibsons, British Columbia. 2015.
Sheryda Warrener's second book of poetry, Floating is Everything, is seasoned with a quirky optimism that Today's book of poetry finds very satisfying. You start off thinking that these poems are going to do particular things but then when you least expect it -- ghosts. There are traces of them everywhere.
Warrener also has a suitably dark sense of humour and Today's book of poetry is always a sucker for that.
from Trace Object
Patterns loosen, collapse. Floating gold and black diamonds
shimmer unhinged from their place in the world's effortless
pattern. Fill in with new. Shortly after he died, she sat on
the corner sofa watching Wheel of Fortune. Turned toward
the nothing that was once her husband and said, Hello Love.
There's an underside to everything! She's sure he called
from his cellphone, and when she slid open the patio door
he was there at the corner of the lawn looking back at her.
Into his phone he saying, I know what you did. Meaning
he watched her get rid of all his shoes and he's not happy
At this morning's reading Milo teared up when he read "Oh, Yoko" and then Kathryn looked at him like he was made of gold and dipped in honey.
The rest of us tried not to intrude on the blue sparks that ensued.
Warrener's Floating is Everything pulls off the difficult yet charming trick of sounding sweet while being serious as a heart attack. Warrener is able to look at some difficult horizons and still come out shining because she has procured the goods to remain hopeful.
That, and there's ghosts.
Imagine on repeat on the record player,
Front cover, a polaroid of a man's head inside
a cloud. Back cover, a photograph taken by
a woman whose husband will wrap his body around her body
in the famous picture by Leibovitz circa 1981
wearing a black sweater and jeans while he's naked
just hours before he's shot, and still no one knows
what to think about it. In Tokyo, a red rotary telephone
floats on a plinth in the middle of the exhibit space.
The label on the wall reads. At any moment, Ms. Ono
might call. When the phone rings, if the phone rings,
what would her voice sound like? A cloud wrung
inside out, a cloud with her husband's face inside.
Vibrations travelling thousands of miles
through wire, frequencies transmitted without
our knowing, only to arrive. I pull on
a black sweater and jeans in solidarity.
My son, three, wants "Oh Yoko!" again, makes a performance
of singing along. There are things he does
and doesn't understand. His voice lags a little behind,
but in the early morning dark he's got that hopeful
human feeling right.
How sweet is that! Warrener does that, hits sweet and completely avoids saccharine.
Floating is Everything takes us to outer-space and back again with Yuri Gagarin and Warrener quotes Elizabeth Bachinsky (author of The Hottest Summer in Recorded History, Bachinsky has round table status here at Today's book of poetry). Warrener is giving us a little taste of the best of heaven and earth.
These poems range dramatically in subject matter, everything from the air quality in Reykjavik to the hair quality on the chest of Steven Morrissey (The Smiths) is up for discussion. Everything gets the same intelligent discourse - and then there are ghosts.
Pools in Florida
After Ginger Shore, Causeway Inn, Tampa, Florida, November 17, 1977
by Stephen Shore
Never mind that it's November and there's a woman to her
waist in it. We can't see the woman's face or maybe it's a
girl. Her aquamarine suit ties at the shoulders. Miniature
wet bows. The frame of the photograph makes a triangle of
ledge and railing. She's looking past the sun chairs reclin-
ing toward the natural bay. The pool water is cheerful, no
one's arguing against that. The auburn of the girl's hair and
skin makes for great proximity effect. Does she feel lonely?
Dusty rose of the bay in the distance, bright sunburst pat-
tern on the surface of the pool. Yes, she's longing to be else-
where. Just past the sun deck there's something invisible
Sheryda Warrener's poems can carry a sense of suspense like the promise of a delicate dessert and they can be earthy like the smell of your backyard after rain. that is a knock out combination any day.
Today's book of poetry, Milo and Kathryn, we all liked Floating is Everything very much.
ABOUT THE AUTHORSheryda Warrener is the author of two poetry collections, including her debut Hard Feelings (Snare/Invisible, 2010). Her work has been shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry, the Arc Magazine Poem of the Year, the Malahat Review Long Poem Prize, and was a runner-up for Lemon Hound’s inaugural poetry contest. She lives in Vancouver, where she teaches at the University of British Columbia.
"So much of measurement / is the pleasure of going / by feel..." suggests Sheryda Warrener in Floating is Everything. And there is great pleasure to be found in her whip-smart poems, in their cunning associative leaps. Elsewhere she writes, "When seeking a pattern, subvert the pattern." Whether tracing the inward depths of memory and relationship or the outer realms of place and space, Warrener's boldly imaginative poems take this as their credo. By the light of her generous and ranging intellect, readers see the world anew. Here is a collection that strives to get that "hopeful, human feeling right."
- Sheri Benning
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