Anne Carson – could yoke Heraclitus and Winnipeg’s 1997 flood and turn muddy Red River water into a mirror that reflects with clarity both the little people of the present and the Great Voices Of The Past.
Slovenly Love (Brick, 115 pages, $15.00), Winnipeg poet Cook’s third poetry collection, plays with language to release it and the reader from convention. Her punning is most surprising because it comes in disguise. These poems may look at times like traditional lyrics, but Cook’s ability to turn an image instantly into something unexpected makes standard subject matter, like motherhood, into a genuinely intriguing meditation.
In the sequence “A Year of Birds” she writes to a child, “In the dark hour I hear little eyes/ fly open, the glazed/ where am I? of your stare louder/ than wails that peel from your curly// mouth, shavings/ off the narrow wedge of my sleep.” Always familiar and always uncanny, Cook’s writing opens the everyday to a creepy beauty.
Alison Calder teaches Canadian literature and creative writing at the University of Manitoba.