Thursday, September 26, 2019

Amateurs At Love — Patricia Young (Icehouse Poetry/Goose Lane Editions)

Today's book of poetry:
Amateurs At Love.  Patricia Young.  Icehouse Poetry/Goose Lane Editions.  Fredericton, New Brunswick.  2018.

Amateurs at Love

Today's book of poetry has Pharoah Sanders on the box and he's cracking out a sterling version of his song "Africa/You've Got To Have Freedom" and we are loving it.  That's about as good as it gets.  Today's book of poetry wanted something lively, joyous, up beat to help us celebrate Patricia Young's Amateurs At Love

Patricia Young is no amateur.  Today's book of poetry has been down the Patricia Young road twice before.  Once for Short Takes on the Apocalypse (Biblioasis,2016), and once for her Consider The Paragliders (Baseline Press, 2018).  You can see them both here:

And here we go again.  It should be clear why, once again Patricia Young has hit us in the poetry sweet spot.

Amateurs At Love is crafted into six sections, each alive with its own magic.  Today's book of poetry got stuck in the first section, "This Could Be Anyone's Story", stuck isn't the right word, neither is paralyzed.  We're going to go with transfixed.  These short prose poems are note perfect, precise and patient.

Young is a pro.

Inside Sleep Country, Bird Murals

peacocks and flamingoes, macaws and parrots. The old man wants
a firm mattress. The old woman longs for a good night's rest.
But the warehouse is a gruelling maze of daybed, canopy beds,
waterbeds, platform beds, sofa beds, truckle beds. Beds the size of
coffins and sandboxes. Beds sluggish as tugboats and shallow as
wading pools. They lean against a child's bunk and remove their
shoes. After you, he says, and she begins her ascent. They climb the
ladder, heads butting through clouds and sunsets, until they roll,
exhausted, onto a super-deluxe, memory foam mattress. Lying on
their backs, they talk about old wounds, betrayals, and whiplash
lust and bursitis. They have children, don't they? Grandchildren,
too? The lights dim. They hear the last customer leave. Doors lock.
Plumage rustles. There's a lone creeing sound. They reach shyly
across the expanse. After all these years, how is it possible? They're
still amateurs at love.


Today's book of poetry sent Thomas, our newest intern, into the stacks to see what else we had in stock from Patricia Young.  Young has published 12 books of poetry and six chapbooks (as well as a novel).  We have eight of her poetry titles on our shelves, in no particular order:

Those Were The Mermaid Days
Melancholy Ain't No Baby
More Watery Still
Here Come The Moonbathers
What I Remember From My Time On Earth
Short Takes on the Apocalypse
Consider The Paragliders

And now young Thomas, our newest intern, will be tasked with finding Patricia Young's other titles. 

Today's book of poetry would be remiss not to suggest you dear readers do the same; look for Patricia Young books.  We suspect, that like us, you will discover a voice worth your good time and a wit you wish you had.

Amateurs At Love is gold.  Like the afore-mentioned Pharoah Sanders, Patricia Young knows how to come correct.  In "Animal Tales", another of the six sections, Young and anthropomorphism get into a Noah's Ark of four legged and winged creatures.  Young treats them with respect, reveals their wit.  You'll believe every word because Young has the true burn.  It all sounds like the truth.


When the children peered through gaps in the fence surrounding
their play area they were confronted with a shocking sight — a
teenage girl whipping a rabbit with a willow branch. The girl
heard the children's whimpering and came over and threatened
to whip them too. So young and so pitiless, the daycare workers
said as they shuffled the little ones into the church basement where
they sloughed off their Muddy Buddies and rolled out their mats. It
was time to nap. Time to dream. That night the children told their
parents about the girl and rabbit, and the next day their parents
told their friends, who then told their friends, and so on, person
to person, until rumours of the girl's pathology travelled around
the globe, full circle, returning to the rabbit who merely rolled his
pink eyes. The children were fantasists, of course. To the rabbit's
mind, truth was the water dish in the corner of his hutch, the whiff
of clover on a summer morning, the diamond stud in the girl's ski
jump nose.



The goose was in love with three ganders and they loved her in
return. The farmer, however, had no time for romance. Financially,
he was in over his head and also underwater. He needed to
downsize. This worried the animals, especially the goose. A month
earlier, on her birthday, she'd laid her last egg. Now, no matter
how she bore down — not one speckled oval. Like all lovesick
creatures, the ganders were a font of ideas and suggested the goose
feign broodiness. An excellent plan, she said, and refused to leave
her nest, even to eat or drink. Day and night her adoring ganders
gathered around to recite sonnets in praise of her fertility but after
the third debt collector had driven off, the farmer summoned his
hapless  waterfowl. You've laid more eggs than any other goose, he
said, and I am grateful, but you are old, old girl, and now you must
return to the bee balm and sky. Too dignified to make a fuss, the
goose arranged her head on the chopping block and the axe came
down. Instead of blood, a bouquet of dandelions spouted from her
neck. The awestruck ganders watched as the yellow clusters turned
swiftly to seed balls. Puff, they cackled, puff, puff.


It's a rainy gray day in the nation's capital but we're all smiles here at Today's book of poetry.  When the pros drop in they make our life easy.  The morning read was both humorous and profound.  Young can be Richard Pryor funny and deadly serious at the same time.  Great trick.

Thomas, our newest intern, was introduced to the morning read this morning and of course because he is new he had to read first.  Thomas looked us right in the eyes and then nailed it, read Patricia Young with wit and timing.  We gave him and Amateurs At Love the full standing ovation.  Thomas bowed.


I took her hand and pulled her toward the park and begged her to
explain why everything I wanted to know was unknowable, like the
boys hanging around the edge of the canal. I wanted to know the 
difference between hypocrisy and lust. Also: the true story of Adam
and Eve. Was the Garden of Eden a foreign country where you
drank from a porcelain fountain or was it the beast with two backs?
I wanted to know: how could a beast have two backs? Other things
too: tricks to stay sane in prison. Should I memorize passages from
the Bible or Dante? Hanging upside down on the monkey bars,
I wanted to know why she, my mother, sitting on a stone bench
unwrapping a small meat pie, had blotted out her past. She bit into
the cold pastry, gravy oozing from the corners of her mouth, and I
wanted to know, would I too have to reinvent myself with duct tape
and flowers?


Today's book of poetry is clearly a Patricia Young fan, you will be too if you can get your hands on Amateurs At Love.  Just like Pharoah Sanders, you can't go wrong.

Image result for patricia young photo

Patricia Young

Patricia Young has published twelve collections of poetry and one of short fiction. Her poems have been widely anthologized and she has received numerous awards for her writing, including the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, the B.C. Book Prize, the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, a CBC Literary Prize, several National Magazine Awards, the Bliss Carman Award, and the Confederation Poets Prize. She has twice been nominated for the Governor General's Award for Poetry. She lives in Victoria.

"Amateurs at Love is as delectable as anything I've read in ages. Young delivers her salty truths in dreamscapes that straddle a ridge between drollery and devastating one-two punches. Here you will find prickly pangramics, grousing animalia, family fables, insight and allegory, and — as in the best of teh best — yourself." 
     — Sharon McCartney

"These poems could well be anyone's story, but each told in light touches is particular, the tone sometimes dark, if kept steadfastly whimsical in intent. A horse gorges on fermented daisies. Mice haunt a cottage with their absence. A boy comes to understand his mother has no answers for him. Not Patricia Young. Thankfully, in Amateurs at Love, she has found one for almost everything."
      — John Barton

"In Amateurs at Love, Patricia Young reveals parallel realities, not ghosts but fleeting glimpses of ourselves. Everyday love coexists as drama on a momentary stage, just on the other side of a veil, or it lives in a dreamlike state in which we are not sure if we are being dreamed or are dreamers. Young's extraordinary power of observation draws us in with fine detail, and the resonant precision of her language carries us along." 
     — Patrick Friesen

Patricia Young Reads from An Auto-Erotic History of Swings
Video: Sono Nis Press


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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