Slovenly Love

Slovenly Love is Méira Cook’s third book of poetry. A Fine Grammar of Bones and Toward a Catalogue of Falling, both collections of lyrics, are now joined by a fascinating long poem composed of five sequences. “A Year of Birds” sensuously explores erosion of self in the gain of new life in motherhood; “Blue Lines” concerns a woman and her double, the imperishable self she “left” to become the self she is; “Trawling: a biography of the river” introduces Heraclitus into the Winnipeg Flood of 1997, the Red River becoming a river of the mind; “Kiss by the Hôotel de Ville,” an extended meditation on varieties of dislocation between art and reality, focuses on Robert Doisneau’s famous photograph of the same title; “Tempestuous” is a passionate, Miranda-centred reading of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Each sequence is distinct, but together they explore a life of gap, fragment, flux. “Ah swift-wingèd youth,” says a voice in “Trawling,” “the world is, was, and ever will be full of wonder.” Slovenly Love, in its exhilarating renovation of words and forms, gorgeously confirms that.


Slovenly Love, Cook’s third poetry collection, plays with language to release it and the reader from convention. 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.

“Always familiar and always uncanny, Cook’s writing opens the everyday to a creepy beauty.”

—Alison Calder, Winnipeg Free Press

“’Blue Lines’ is reminiscent of Webb’s or Zwicky’s poetry, as philosophic ruminations on the nature of self and its articulation in the writing process, a demanding investigation that depends, for poetic expression, upon the brilliance and poignancy of metaphor.

“What we meet repeatedly in this collection is finely wrought language, fresh, precise images and sensual insight. Slovenly Love is dynamic yet subtle, lush in its use of metaphor yet pristine in its clarity of thought — the kind of collection to keep beside one’s bed, to read again and again.”

—Heather Pyrcz

“In her third collection of poetry, Slovenly Love, Méira Cook writes an essential musicality, even a musical abstract, in her poems, with a tone unlike any other. After two previous poetry collections as well as a novel Cook still manages to write in silence [. . .] It feels almost as though her books simply appear out of nowhere every few years, completed.

“From the pieces in her previous collection, Cook has shown that she is capable of great things, and Slovenly Love gives that and more, each book become thicker than the last, to the point of no exit, and no return. Slovenly Love is the flood that overcomes.” [Read full review »]

—Rob McLennan

Slovenly Love has all the hallmarks of Cook’s writing — its use of beautiful words slightly deranged in their meaning and an active intelligence fused with feeling.”

—Quentin Mills-Fenn, Uptown Magazine


LONGLISTED – 2004 ReLit Awards


A Year of Birds

Little bird you flutter-flutter in my arms, tick
thick milk and blood, cheeks
flying red flags where the unsheathed teeth
live. Outside geese scatter across sky,

iron filings thickening at the magnetic line
of horizon. This moment won’t recur,
a sky rubbed thin
beneath the barefoot feet

of last summer’s children. The window
is a frame stretching that paper-thin sky
along the bias of geese prejudiced
by weather. Little bird your unfinished head

crooks my arm, keeps my heart
coniferous. Even the horizon
exerts no pull. Instead a need
to bear witness. Like the man

on a bridge who sees the first
of the summer raptors, who calls
to the woman pushing her stroller below,
look up, up! As for me,
little bird, I am no longer hollow
boned, audacious. Gravity
keeps me buoyant, bright
anklet of teeth about the bone.


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