Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Sick and I — Katie Fewster-Yan (Desert Pet Press)

Today's book of poetry:
Sick and I.  Katie Fewster-Yan.  Desert Pets Press.  Toronto, Ontario.  2017.

SUMMER by Stevie Howel

Katie Fewster-Yan's Sick and I is some slick stuff.  Fewster-Yan has more happening in one poem than many poets have happen in a book.  Sick and I reads like some hyper-stream-of-consciousness, from a very richly textured and well-informed stream.

Today's book of poetry is scrambling for the right deferential phrasing because Katie Fewster-Yan brings a great game right out of the gate.  Not since reading Suzannah Showler's Sucks To Be You - and other true taunts (Odourless Press, 2013) has Today's book of poetry been quite so impressed by a chapbook.  Make no mistake, you will see more of Katie Fewster-Yan.


On Tuesday, you extract the capsules
from the second compartment,
bend back its cap like a flap
on an advent calendar.
From the fridge, you'll draw
the same waning cheese block,
remove the last two slices
from the bread loaf that has let itself go
without protest. Empty, its bag
bloats like a ghoul, counter-beached.
The triumphant bread clip
by its side holds its arms raised
like an amnesiac wrestler lost
in the glory of its last remembered
match. What is to be done with them,
as with your days, is up to you.

Of what use is the gravy boat,
or the milk carafe decalled
with jubilant cows? Cold utensils,
packed like factory-bred animals
spoon belly up in drawers, sparkling
at the underside of the counter
while each morning rises
like a mouthless child.
How instinctively we decide
how long to chew before we swallow!
As if we were made to. As if each day
were scrupulously portioned,
wrapped like a tiny prize, counting up
or down to what you longed for.


Fewster-Yan literally took our breath away with her poem "A Moment on the Lips."  These poems come at the reader with velocity, no passive speculation, Fewster is on target and fierce.  And funny.

Sick and I is a slim volume but once you've read it you'll start to feel its weight.  Today's book of poetry has read through it several times and now the damned thing is so heavy we can barely lift it.


Today's book of poetry has one of the best jobs in the world on days like this, when I get to share poetry this fine.  It's all part of larger scheme of world domination by Today's book of poetry and our staff.  "First we take Manhattan..."

Today's book of poetry is convinced Sick and I will be a calling-card to much bigger things.  Katie Fewster-Yan is ready.

A Moment on the Lips

My boyfriend holds me by my ex-lover's
genitals. The waistband of my leggings
makes my mother's nipples itch.
When I kissed its insides, curious,
the freezer split my lip, but I will bury
it with me some day in my grave.
Who needs tattoos? I'm hip-swathed
with chip packets and gum wrappers,
evangelical pamphlets and sandwich
coupons. The liver spots that dotted
my late grandfather's IV-pierced hand
ink my midriff like a galaxy. On the subway,
the ladies I'm crammed next to look
less impressed than they should be,
dipping their hips in the Pacific I once
kissed so you might taste the sound
of whales when I returned. When I dance,
a skirt of plankton swirls around me
in a balm millennia sediment-packed
to keep my lips slick. Thanks to history,
to my best decisions cinched around me
like a child's leash. Thank you grandma
for that eight-shaped, candy-studded cake
with all those gilded chocolate dollars
on the top that I sucked clean. Now I am
spangled and frosted at the waistline.
I'm the nucleus in a probability storm
of all my charged encounters.
Go ahead. Just try to shower me.


The morning read at the Today's book of poetry offices was splendid.  The weather finally broke here in Ottawa and we have the windows open and the air is fresh and cool and good.  Kathryn, our Jr. Editor, lined us all up and assigned the poems.  Katie Fewster-Yan's poems rolled out and around the office like some splendid music, full of charm, wit and the razor.

Fewster-Yan has the knowledge.  If she were a London Cabbie she'd know it all blind-folded.  Her poems are fierce and fiercely intelligent.

Coming Through

I hold a ring of dried pineapple in one hand,
two thumb tacks in the other. Focus
is a shifty faculty. I drop a spoon
into the trash can and cart a cantaloupe rind
back to the sink. You watch your input
vie for my regard on the multichannel system
my attention's splitting into.
Take your hand and put it on my
volume dial. I want to hold you arrested
and so close to the chest
there's no room for playing cards.
I'm at the edge of a crater
trying to recall what I came here
to pull from it. Someone's hole-punched
the record. You put your car keys
in the freezer, and a shut door
in your memory erases them for weeks.
I'm keeping one eye on you peeling
off your nylons while the other's in the kitchen
shucking peas. You're at your core cleaving
more necks than a hydra. Bring your heads
toward us. I want to hold me in your teeth.


"I want to hold me in your teeth."  Perfect.  Hilarious.  Dark.

Our morning read over, Milo, our head tech, has the Troggs blaring over our sound system, and now he's followed them up with Nick Cage singing an old Jimi Hendrix song, "Hey Joe."  And now Milo and Kathryn are dancing across the office floor like happy hippies.

Katie Fewster-Yan's Sick and I has left the Today's book of poetry offices in a groovy mood.  Great poetry will do that to you every time.

Image result for katie fewster-yan photo

Katie Fewster-Yan

Katie Fewster-Yan is currently living in Newfoundland and Labrador.


Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.
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