Reviews

All My Little Words

KELSEA O'CONNOR

Stephin Merritt’s 11 Two-Letter Words (W.W. Norton) is a collection of illustrated poems based on all the legal two-letter words playable in Scrabble. Merritt originally began writing the poems as mnemonic devices during downtime while on tour with his band, the Magnetic Fields. Each four-line rhyming poem is accompanied by a humorous illustration by the New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast; running themes include sloths, songwriting, Scotland and vampire dogs. Perhaps my favourite was OH, which proposes new curses (“oh, cheesemongers! oh folk art!”) or RE, which is a take on different pronunciations of the word (“Re: about, in memos / Rays: how microwaves make pork”). Merritt’s poetry is like Edward Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies for Scrabble lovers: a witty, charming, slightly macabre ode to language. (“All My Little Words” is the title of a song written by Merritt for the Magnetic Fields; it appears on the album 69 Love Songs.)

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KELSEA O'CONNOR

Kelsea O’Connor is contributing editor to Geist. She lives in New Westminster.


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