A Fine Grammar of Bones

The poems in A Fine Grammar of Bones are haunting and often poignant incantations. Méira Cook’s poetry and prose inhabit a world of fable and magic. Her cadences are primal, her language ­allusive, her subjects reminiscent of sideshow. In the prose sections, the company of bizarre includes a woman who keeps her mother’s heart in the fridge, a night watchman who dresses his mannequin in the finest lingerie, and a schoolteacher who passes his days with a dead dog tied to his leg. These poems are haunting and often poignant incantations—this first collection, musical and fantastical, introduces an uncommon imagination to Canadian literature.


“The CrazyWoman poems are words to dance to.”

—Anne Szumigalski

A Fine Grammar of Bones marks the dazzling début of Méira Cook, a South African-born poet now resident in Winnipeg. Every page in this collection scintillates with imagery and lilts with song. The poems are dramatic rushes of words, vibrant and intense . . . bizarre narratives fusing the wild ‘slanguage’ of Eliza Clark and Ondaatje-like exotica. Cook’s book, its politics implicit, is [a] find.

—George Elliott Clarke, Books in Canada

“A writer of fresh, startling imagery, with a sophisticated ear for rhythm, rhyme and near-rhyme, Cook is also, when she chooses to be, a mesmerizing storyteller. Her ‘Palm of the Hand Stories’ in Grammar are funny and twisted and too vivid to be forgotten in a hurry. The strong narratives and absence of line breaks distinguish them from the poems, yet these ‘stories’ are nevertheless unmistakably poetic.” [Read the full review »]

—Amy Barratt, Malahat Review


“There is a relentless strength in this style, used primarily to relate a sense of disorientation. Cook uses the imagery of cold, snowy climate to stir up fire in our bones, blizzard as flame. People flayed to the bone, houses up and disintegrate, tomatoes have a bloody and ominous significance . . . Méira Cook is someone to watch. A Fine Grammar of Bones is an imaginative, original voice, especially impressive since this is a first book.”

—Poetry Canada

“Cook’s first collection provides pleasure, offering seriousness without sentimentality, and humour without frivolity.”

—Joel Skuce, Canadian Forum

A Fine Grammar of Bones is a work of poetry and prose poetry [in which] the author shows a powerful imaginative ability to tell memorable tales in highly evocative language . . . Méira Cook is an exciting and unusual poet, and this first collection shows the diversity and range of her poetic talent.”

—Journal of Canadian Poetry

“Here is an eclectic assortment of poems and prose pieces dealing with often unusual people and subjects which, on second glance, turn out to be disturbingly familiar. Cook weaves some wonderful spells around these subjects, in the process striking empathic chords in her reader and eliciting the occasional comforting sense of déjà vu through her effective manipulation of various lyrical and narrative forms.”

—Neil Querengesser, Wascana Review


a fine grammar of bones

this country was long ago it began
in the margins of a blank page peeled
open to a scroll and when it snowed
the world opened into silence
between letters snow falling like words
and the white spaces between words
in another country her daughter
brushes her hair twists tortoiseshell
combs through coils she was dying the sun
shone through her skin to a fine
grammar of bones strummed that pale
ribcage chanted the pious liturgy
of her spine i was queen her bones
rattled in her skin and she died
turning to parchment like the town
where she was born where she was young
was queen was beautiful tamed wild
rubies to her knucklebones fell
ill of language began to die


One thought on “A Fine Grammar of Bones

  1. That is very, very beautiful. You truly live up to Goethe’s In der Beschre4nkung zeigt sich erst der Meister . So much hddien behind those words. In French we say: Chapeau . I love it very, very much, dear Francina.Veel liefs en groetjesSteph xxx

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