How Do I Look? Sennah Yee. Metatron Press. Montreal, Quebec. 2017.
A poet named after Aryton Senna. For Today's book of poetry that fact alone almost takes our breath away. Not surprisingly Sennah Yee has an F1 driver's simplicity in mastering that shortest distance between two points mantra. These poems come across as terse and teasing darts from a love-sick Cupid.
How Do I Look? is a hipster's handbook and travel guide. How Do I Look? is a collection of movie reviews where Siskel and Ebert are both hash-smoking robots with inexplicable savior faire.
In Austin, someone who looks exactly like the Madonna-
pap-smear girl from Slacker serves me pistachio ice cream
with an extra scoop "just cuz." I try slowing down my
speech to a drawl, my power-walk to a stroll. We rent a
car and drive out of the city. I can't eat my extra "just
cuz" scoop fast enough against the sun. It seeps down the
waffle cone, my hand, onto my thigh. I lick my fingers and
look out the car window. The billboards tell me that God
and Jesus love me lots out here, but I'd never guess from
The poems in How Do I Look? are brief prose poems where Sennah Yee goes into the corners hard and comes out smoking. Today's book of poetry was immediately taken aback by how Yee both takes the reader the lapels and says "HEY, you need to look at this!", and at the same time Yee's gentle nonchalance suggests she has already moved on.
Today's book of poetry has all the time in the world for strong women's voices and Sennah Yee is aces. Yee has that "cool" veneer that often resembles a big emotional barrier for access, the "cool" that doesn't allow entry to the heart, but Yee is smarter than that. She never lets her cool get in the way of making her point.
How Do I Look? is a bold handshake and rips right through the reader's first line of defence with Yee's ambidextrous heroine cutting through the red tape of the unsaid and getting right to the meat and potatoes.
After we fight you make up by cooking me sunny-side-up
quail eggs on tiny slices of rock-hard baguette. The yolk
dribbles out of my mouth and down my chin. I feel a shard
of shell nick the lining of my throat. Still, I swallow.
Before our morning read Today's book of poetry had to give a very short talk to our minions about who Aryton Senna was. The source of Yee's name (although we are entirely prepared for the fact that the chameleon in Yee might just be pulling our leg) was a great hero. He was not only the best racing driver who ever lived, he was a generous humanitarian beloved by the poor of Brazil. When he died there were three days of national mourning in Brazil. His talent was breathtaking. Look him up even though it has nothing to do with poetry.
Sennah Yee still doesn't drive. But she sure can burn. Our morning read was a crackerjack, these short poems rolling off of our reader's tongues like shining and pointed arrows headed straight for the bull's eye.
Yee can be a tough and bitter heartache struggling with the morning and a tender lover with sweet intent and can fit both performances on to the head of a pin.
High angles would do nothing for the gap between my
breasts. I would use the flash to wash my features out. I
would open my eyes far and wide. Think doe-eyed. Think
Audry, Think Zooey. Think mine are going to fall out of
their sockets. When Bambi's mom got shot, my sister made
my mom stop the VCR and put on Mulan instead. "Don't
look back. Keep running. Keep running."
Today's book of poetry was immediately poetry-smitten by the witty Sennah Yee. We'd let her drive any time.
ABOUT THE AUTHORSennah Yee. b. 1992, Toronto. Sennah writes poetry, writes about films, and writes poetry about films. Her debut book of poetry/non-fiction HOW DO I LOOK? is at Metatron Press.
She is a PhD student in Cinema & Media Studies at York University, focusing her research on gender dynamics in female robots in Japan and the US. Her MA thesis, Gendered Robot Design in Mainstream Media & Technology, was awarded a SSHRC Grant.
She is the Arts Editor at Shameless, a magazine for young women and trans youth. She is Co-Editor and Contributor to The Fuck of the Century, a web-based pop culture journal.
She is the Producer and Production Designer of the feature film Withdrawn, which premiered at Slamdance Film Festival in 2017.
Though named after a Formula 1 driver, she has yet to get behind the wheel. She tweets @sennahaha.
"In Yee's poetry, whole worlds, multiple worlds, can live in just a few sentences and countless people and histories can exist within one person's body. You can live a while life in just one of Yee's paragraphs.
Book trailer for: How Do I Look?
Video: Hera Hera Creative
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