Reviews

9 Freight

JILL MANDRAKE

I’d like to believe that today’s poetry can awaken us from our trance-like state, and that poets can still take flight and alert us of oncoming danger, like the tunnel canaries they are destined to be. These days, however, when you publish a poetry collection, it rarely becomes more than an addition to your resumé, giving you a chance to compete for a position teaching creative writing. Fortunately, 9 Freight, a tight collection of poems by Kim Minkus (LINEbooks), does its job by challenging us to look at the defeat and humiliation around us. We catch a pathetic glimpse of some of our confreres, going into eyebrow-level debt for 85 square feet of leakiness: “I flash a smile at my economic potential. Then pale at the reality.” People read about war and destruction, and promptly pile up material solace: “from one piece of collateral to another.” Shallow, strained relationships and routine school systems aren’t helping us out of the mire: “Each tertiary being a binary compound of two / secondaries This is what it takes to be better educated.” These are some of the messages transported to us via 9 Freight. A promo for this work described it as erotic, although a more accurate term might be sensual, or even celebratory. Some of the passages, like this one from “Condo,” remind me of certain lines from the later essays of D.H. Lawrence, for they detail the same loving appreciation of the senses: “my brush is loaded with colour. I can paint / him into a corner. though he is lovely in blue I strip him down and / add black.” In other words, the feeling conveyed is not erotic in its current Hollywood usage (where “erotic” seems to mean having a drink to match the dress, and as many pairs of shoes in the closet as a nouveau Joan Crawford). I suppose if you promote work as erotic you can get potential readers to stop playing Corporate Guitar Hero long enough to prick up their ears; but I’m inclined to promote this book by saying, “Read 9 Freight to increase your awareness of the times, in a lyrical, rhythmic way.”

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JILL MANDRAKE

Jill Mandrake writes strange but true stories and leads Sister DJ’s Radio Band, featuring rhythm and blues covers, post-vaudeville original tunes and occasional comedy bits. She lives in Vancouver.


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