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Fish Bones [Paperback]

Gillian Sze

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Book Description

May 7 2009 Punchy Poetry
In Fish Bones Gillian Sze takes a random walk through the art museum and finds the drama of life framed in a series precisely rendered and moving artefact poems. Working from Jeanette Winterson’s idea of a 'constant exchange of emotion' between the artist, the painting, and the writer, Sze’s ekphrastic verse is unrelenting in its commitment to action, so that each poem sparked by a picture comes to follow its own impetus, the origin of which is always a deeply felt encounter, whether familial, erotic, or strange. Vacillating deftly between the suspended space-time of a museum exhibit and the charged urgency of the lives she imagines via the art she describes, the result is a collection at once stirring and arresting, tender and coolly true.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: DC Books (May 7 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1897190468
  • ISBN-13: 978-1897190463
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.4 x 0.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 113 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #927,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Gillian Sze was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Her poetry has appeared in such venues as CV2, Prairie Fire, pax americana (U.S.), Crannóg (Ireland), Cha: An Asian Literary Journal (Hong Kong), and as a featured 'Parliamentary Poem of The Week' selection. She is also the author of two chapbooks, This is the Colour I Love You Best (2007) and A Tender Invention (2008). She resides in Montreal.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5.0 out of 5 stars A people's poet, pleasing to the eye and ear March 30 2012
By Laura Roberts - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I love Gillian Sze. Not in a "we're romantically involved" kind of way, but we were classmates at Concordia University for our undergraduate degrees in creative writing, and from the first moment I read her work, I knew she was a great writer. So you'll have to forgive me if I gush over her first book of poetry, Fish Bones, because I've always had a bit of a girl crush on her.

Hopefully that doesn't sound totally creepy and stalkeresque. I just mean that I am in love with her words, and have always hoped she would go on to publish and get the larger recognition she deserves. (And yes, she does deserve it.) So obviously, I am biased in favor of liking this book of poetry, even though I'm not exactly poetry's Biggest Fan.

In a previous review of Gillian's chapbook, This is the Colour I Love You Best, I said that her work "[made] me regret everything negative I've ever said about poetry." I feel very strongly that she's a people's poet, or would be if more people were willing to give poetry a chance. She's great at capturing details and emotions with an artist's eye. She also doesn't get melodramatic, or seek to confuse her audience by leaving things out. Instead, she presents unusual images that allow readers to make of them what they will.

When done well, good poetry appears effortless. Sze's poetry definitely seems as though she has strung words easily together, like the salmon bones threaded on a bracelet from the books' title piece, "Playing Fish Bones." Though she may downplay her work's significance as "My feeble crusted offerings: / striving for sweetness" (as in her poem "Cantaloupe"), each snapshot is actually quite deeply meaningful.

Perhaps my favourite poem in the collection is "fragmented," which describes a woman who sees herself in bits and pieces throughout the city she calls home. It is at times narcissistic, though mostly in a bittersweet mood, the piece describes the narrator's lack of identity. The city, she says, has her by the ankles; it has wrestled her self from her. Yet the city has also made her useful, perhaps in ways she never could have dreamt, as when a bird has created a nest from strands of her hair, "so I now live in the trees, / curled beneath the fledglings..."

I particularly like the image of the narrator as "part-statue / part church-top." Her reflections are everywhere, in everything ordinary and sublime.

Like her poetic persona, Gillian Sze is everywhere at once; the poet whose eyes see right through you, but exposes your weaknesses with tenderness.

(Originally posted at Black Heart Magazine)

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