Sunday, February 11, 2018

The More - Ronna Bloom (Pedlar Press)

Today's book of poetry:
The More.  Ronna Bloom.  Pedlar Press.  St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.  2017.


"I'm not the sort of person who gets people into trouble,
But the trouble I'm in, we're all in."
                                                                                                - "I Start The Day"

Today's book of poetry read Ronna Bloom's first book, Fear of the Ride (Carleton University Press, 1996) some time ago and pulled it down from the stacks for a refresher on Bloom.  And are we ever glad we did.  Two poems in we remembered everything we needed to know about Ronna Bloom's poetry.  We're in.  She writes it, we'll read it.

Stone cold, rock hard, solid.  Fear of the Ride was full of short, precise, simple poems that took up instant residence on our emotional radar.  So what do we know prior to The More:  Bloom writes hard and clear and clean poems with razor crisp edges, and does it within an emotional framework built on empathy but never above sympathy.  Bloom writes poetry that knows the ways of the world.

Some people are forced, through circumstance, no fault of their own, to see more than their share of suffering.  Not that anyone has ever figured out exactly, how much suffering each of us should bear.  Ronna Bloom's voice has seen her share, and perhaps the shares of a few others.

The More has a precision of empathy laced with irony that is consistently compelling for the reader.  Bloom, these twenty years removed from Fear of the Ride has lost none of her considerable edge.  All these years of experience have added a deeper layer of emotional understanding and with it a considered melancholy.

Appointment in Samarra

30 people in chemo today multiplied by
x hospitals in y countries and z universes.

Back here. H smiles through 4 syringes of chemicals, 2 bags of saline,
and a flush of life-giving killer liquid.

White-haired sisters in their 70s share clippings of their modelling days
with shirtless men in big cars, take selfies holding up their matching drips.

A woman in the corner looks exactly like what is happening to her.
Pale and bald like coal after a fire.

Slap me good and hard with mortality while I'm strong.
My body wants to run as though it's seen a ghost.


"but to stay true to the process and its shtick
in the service of a mission that holds in its mouth
the names and imagined wants of others"
                                                                                 - "This Breakfast"

Today's book of poetry enjoyed The More because Bloom is consistently entertaining.  Her serious poems can be funny as hell but Bloom's pitch never falters, she is always heading towards the heart of the thing.

Bloom has a compassionate heart but recognizes that heart isn't enough in a world willing to inflict what it does.  Bloom likes to mix it up emotionally and no matter how grim the circumstance Bloom has room for some tenderness.


Everything I dread, I look forward to.

Whoever I condemn, I am him.

Whatever I think is irrelevant is, until I become irrelevant.

Tomorrow I'll be the one I bully today.

The next person I love scares me already.

u have a sweet face a boy told me when I was young, so I didn't show it.

I used my mind to hurt when I was hurting.

The queen sees her cruelty and bends in grief.

Like her, my remorse is as awful as my arrogance.

The word care means worry. To suffer is to allow.

The pain then is part of the happiness now.

Avoidance meets us halfway.

We could cut to the chase and embrace.


Another snowy morning here at Today's book of poetry.  Ottawa is certainly a winter wonderland of snow these days.  The morning read was commandeered by Kathryn, our Jr. Editor, from the word go.  Kathryn said that she felt an instant "attach" to these poems.  As we read through both The More and Fear of the Ride Kathryn assigned specific poems to specific readers as though she were a happy little Napoleon, more correctly like one of those Great Catherines, directing the battle from the comfort of the new reading chair.

It was hard not to notice that Kathryn had brought in a pillow, arm-rest covers and a beautiful length of silk for the back of the chair.  Or the piles of books Kathryn had quickly amassing on both sides of our new chair.

The reading itself was a slick affair, everyone got into Bloom's tight orchestrations and read them with the proper gravitas and glee.

A Blessing For The Waning

Here's to the last suck before birth of separation, before gums have teeth.
To skin that's soft, brown, rough, cracked, bruised, itching, callused,
folding over, touched. To the body held, whole unto itself.

Here's to what the body was before anything changed, which was never.
To the original flat chest of everyone.

Here's to the growths, hoped for and maligned.
The deletions, depilations, bargains, and beseechments.

Here's to loss of consciousness remembered waking up in the morning, in
recovery, bewildered, with toast in your mouth.

To the sleep that was good but is now interrupted and induced.
To pain that lodges, that travels.

Desire breathes like a tide, goes a long way out,
and surprises when it comes back in a swell.
The way grief does.

Here's to falling and to falling, and to falling falling.

To the curse of forgetting and its gift, forgetting.
To the gift of remembering and its curse, memory.

To having had a life. Us creature and our smells.

Here's goodbye to clothes that fit another body.
To the last embrace you didn't know was last.

Here's to kissing the last mouth on yours. Pucker up.
Pucker up now and go.


You all know how much Today's book of poetry loves a "list" poem and Bloom gives us a humdinger for our final poem.

Today's book of poetry was happy to see The More come through the door.  We have admired this woman's poetry for a good long time.  The More is ample confirmation the Bloom is the poet we always thought, but better.

Image result for ronna bloom photo

Ronna Bloom

Ronna Bloom is a poet, speaker, psychotherapist, and author of six books. Her poems have been broadcast on the CBC, displayed in public spaces, recorded by the CNIB, and translated into Spanish and Bengali.
Ronna speaks and writes at corporate events, leads organizational retreats, runs workshops, and does poetry and writing coaching. She brings twenty years of psychotherapy practice to her work as a poet and facilitator.
She is currently Poet in Community at the University of Toronto and Poet in Residence at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Ronna has performed with Juno award-winning musician Jayme Stone. A one minute film based on the poem “Grief Without Fantasy” was made by filmmaker Midi Onodera and screened in the Official Selection at the Toronto Urban Film Festival.
Ronna has written 5 books of poetry, which some people really liked. Several of these have been shortlisted for Canadian literary prizes. Her sixth book, The More, was just released October 12, 2017.

“Soulful, urgent, profound.”

“I think this is Bloom’s best collection yet. She actively engages with the world, saying things that I immediately want to write down to make mine.”

Ronna Bloom
from The More
Video: Ronna Bloom



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