Vancouver poet Shaun Robinson’s If You Discover a Fire is a debut collection of poems that make a virtue of their failure to communicate. They forage through the syntax and vocabulary of late-night voicemails, letters to the editor, songs invented in the shower, professional jargon, “Witness Wanted” signs, technical manuals, and text-message typos to assemble verbal collages that raise more questions than they answer. In settings ranging from Montreal’s Mile End to a commercial flight above the Midwest to a wildfire in the mountains of British Columbia, these are poems rooted in workingclass Canadian experience, poems that flirt with both safety and danger, that drone on like drunken strangers in a bar. Gathering reference from weather reports, football announcers, aerial disappearances, and the movie Groundhog Day, these poems sound their forlorn yawp through the alleys of East Vancouver.
Praise for If You Discover a Fire:
“Darkly comic, or just plain dark, these poems offer no assurances, but as the particulars accumulate — all-night gyms, boredom, plastic flowers, rec rooms where children in blindfolds swing wildly at air — they generate a vital, unpredictable force. Like the octopus that sets loose the lid of the jar it’s been placed in, If You Discover A Fire has the imagination to outsmart the world’s relentless conditions.” — Sheryda Warrener