The Year of Our Beautiful Exile. Monica Kidd. Gaspereau Press. Kentville, Nova Scotia. 2015.
Today's book of poetry had the pleasure of writing about Monica Kidd's Handfuls of Bone (Gaspereau Press, 1012) back in January, 2014.
It is our distinct pleasure to travel along with Kidd once more in The Year of Our Beautiful Exile. These punchy poems get to the point and apparently Kidd doesn't mind us tagging along.
A Makeshift Martini Shaker
It requires an attitude of the wrist.
A flick of the hair, the bearing of Buster Keaton,
a love for the way white layers on white,
the way a word can be both sour and sweet
when served with a boar's head.
The way nothing is ever
quite what it seems.
An emphatic pumpf as the line cook peeps
out the porthole of a door that swings
both ways. Feet like water on
flagstones in old Montreal.
Monica Kidd's curiosity would kill several cats. The Year of Our Beautiful Exile reads like an omnibus from some hip oracle priestess. We here at Today's book of poetry like how Kidd talks.
You could hand this book out at a party and every reasonable person would like it, a lot. But they'd all have different favourites. Why? Because somehow Monica Kidd writes poems that sound so true you simply think they have happened to you. This is a very good trick.
The beetles in Madeira lie much concealed until the wind
lulls and the sun shines
Of evolution and what it said about God, geneticist J.B.S.
Haldane remarked, He must have an inordinate fondness
for beetles. For remove the soil, the houses, and asphalt, the
fighter planes and pop cans, the bed sheets; remove the
entire residue of man, and the earth would remain, a husk
of twitching bug feet. Set your mind to counting and come
back when you are old, and still the number would not be
great enough to hold them.
Today's book of poetry just has to admit it right out front. Whatever Monica Kidd is interested in writing about - we are interested in reading.
This morning's read was a first. Our Senior Editor, Max, came out of his office for the first time in over three years, walked to the middle of the floor with his copy of The Year of Our Beautiful Exile in hands and said "I've got this."
Then with almost perfect pitch he rattled them all off, the entire book, turned on his heels and went back to his office. Milo, our head tech, said that he'd thought Max had retired. Kathryn, our Jr. Editor, asked where the door had come from and who the strange man in our office was and why had she never seen him before.
I explained to Kathryn that Max lives on a diet of dictionaries, books of style and the solo recordings of Thelonious Monk.
It is only natural that Max would admire The Year of Our Beautiful Exile, Monica Kidd has Monk like imagination, Thelonious wit. She knows what to leave in, when to let your imagination fill in the blanks.
How The Body Remembers Joy
How you snug my hip with
two girls curled into sleep, my heart
humming an old tune it once heard,
a hundred times, the heat of a body
on a sofa never closer than brass strings
strummed against the night,
prowling at the windows.
My new love affair with F#:
the way it sits cock-eared
in the drum of my chest,
its sound of feet on earth, of quiet
rooms and a blank page, turning.
How the body remembers joy.
How the clocks stop.
Monica Kidd writes with precision, compassion and wit and we can't get enough of that here at Today's book of poetry. We were greatly impressed with Handfuls of Bone, The Year of Our Beautiful Exile only raises our expectations. Kidd can cook with the best.
ABOUT THE AUTHORMonica Kidd grew up on the Alberta prairies. Her previous literary works include two novels (Beatrice and The Momentum of Red), a book of non-fiction (Any Other Woman: An Uncommon Biography) and two collections of poetry (Actualities and Handfuls of Bone). Her short experimental films have shown in Atlantic Canada and in Amsterdam. She has worked as a seabird biologist and as a reporter for CBC Radio, where her news items and documentaries have won numerous awards. Kidd presently lives in Calgary, Alberta, where, as well as writing, she works as a medical doctor and tends to her young family.
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