On the Count of None. Allison Chisholm. A Feed Dog Book. Anvil Press. Vancouver, British Columbia. 2018.
There's more going on in Allison Chisholm's bag of tricks On the Count of None than Today's book of poetry could keep track of. Just to get started there are a series of horoscope related poems, one for each sign of the zodiac. These poems were full of laugh out loud moments. Chisholm's humour is often right under the surface of things. Once you hit that stride these poems take on a whole new charm.
Aries (March 21-April 19)
If you are not yet moving at top speed, you very soon
Reach out to a close ally.
Consult an expert at low volume.
The results will be pleasing: an abundance of
greenery in the shadows of Venus.
Be prepared for a strong reaction.
Note of full disclosure: Anvil Press also publishes my work. I'd like to think that Today's book of poetry operates without influence and/or favouritism. Our mission remains to write about books of poetry we like.
Today's book of poetry figured Chisholm's poem "Worldly or Otherwise: is a thinly veiled mission statement so we thought we should take a look. Today's book of poetry should know more about Allison Chisholm, we've had the pleasure of breaking bread together. Allison was the emcee for a reading Today's book of poetry did in Kingston last year with Sadiqa de Meijer and Stuart Ross. And we've shared beer at the Carleton Tavern.
Worldly or Otherwise
On this side of the world we put things in order:
hairpins, asthma inhalers, glasses of milk.
We edit our obituaries and euthanize our old ambitions.
We underwrite our uncertainties and pause to remember a voice.
On this side of the world we believe in suicide the old-fashioned way.
On this side of the world we strike out inscriptions left in books.
We keep your rumours at the edge of our vision.
We cast out broken skeletons and infiltrate audible gasps.
It's another type of sinking—here, on this side of the world.
Sadly, the truth is that Today's book of poetry knows virtually nothing about Chisholm except that we like the way she gets around a page. Stuart Ross we know like the back of our own hand. Mr. Ross is the Editor for A Feed Dog Book, his imprint at Anvil Press.
It is hard for Today's book of poetry to pretend that there is no bias when it comes to Ross but in truth we can't wait to get our hands on any book he's had an influence on. Today's book of poetry knows from personal experience that Ross makes any poem he touches better. He is a superior editor.
Allison Chisholm benefits from the care Ross puts into his poets work. On the Count of None is precise, smoothly carved, the sharp edges are within the language, the poems themselves are otter slick.
Any poet publishing a poem for the Paris, Ontario poet Nelson Ball is going to curry favour here in our offices. All of you regular readers will remember Nelson Ball from the several books of his we've gushed over in previous posts. Nelson Ball is a genuine hero in the poetry/small press scene here in Ontario. Allison Chisholm manages to capture and compliment Captain Ball in one short breath. Lovely.
Today's book of poetry discovered a reoccurring character, she appears in at least seven poems. Who is this "Ellen?" What does she want with us? What does her presence mean? And why does she have three "Dollhouse (s)?" It doesn't really matter, Ellen had our full attention every time she popped up with a sage flurry.
Woman Does Backflip Before Slipping
How do I measure
Some level of risk
A comfortable silence
And a single sailing season?
Do I wrestle
This pirate stronghold
An instant foreboding
And a legendary creature?
Dear, dear Abby
Is there a fine line
Between a daylong battle
And a misty morning?
Sun filters through leaves
Snow covers all in sight
I hear popping and crackling
As Mom drops bacon into the pan.
Life is an expenditure
And I need some capital.
Our morning read was a snappy little dance. The sun is shining and it's almost the weekend, everyone was in summer clothing and a good mood. Kathryn, our Jr. Editor, was all over Chisholm and handed out our reading assignments with aplomb. Allison Chisholm's perky On the Count of None got us all thinking this morning. These poems never try to pull the wool over your eyes but that doesn't mean that Chisholm won't happily pull the rug out from beneath your feet. Poetry wise.
ABOUT THE AUTHORAllison Chisholm lives and writes in Kingston, Ontario. Her poetry has appeared in The Northern Testicle Review, the Puddles of Sky chap-poem The Dollhouse, The Week Shall Inherit The Verse, and the Proper Tales Press chapbook On the Count of One. She played glockenspiel in the Hawaiian-dream-pop band scub. Her photography has been exhibited in the Tiniest Gallery.
BLURBS“Allison Chisholm’s poems are plain-talking spirals of wit and description. She walks the reader along a path of surprises— a straightforward line steps to another straightforward line, but getting there involves Escher-like angles. What a great first book, full of a persuasive and clear form of surrealism!”
– Alice Burdick, author of Deportment and Book of Short Sentences
“There are lots of rewards among these lines. I like especially the poems that implicitly and pointedly criticize our culture— and I love Allison’s deadpan humour.”
– Nelson Ball, author of Certain Details and Walking
“Allison Chisholm introduces us to a world where things are at once placed in careful order and blown delightfully apart. There are surprising pleasures tucked into these succinct poems.”
– Jaime Forsythe, author of I Heard Something and Sympathy Loophole
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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