Toward a Catalogue of Falling

Toward a Catalogue of Falling, Méira Cook’s second full-length book, proves that the fall into language can be both graceful and startling. Whether she is rewriting Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Little Mermaid” (as she does in her poem sequence “Days of Water”), thinking of Breughel’s/Williams’/ Auden’s Icarus, reading oranges, or offering advice for catching crows, Cook’s words are luminous. Language is a character in these poems, along with circus performers, Venetian tour guides, clumsy sons and migrating geese. Cook writes poems that bless hearts turned to salt, and revive the silenced energies of words. Always unexpected, always elegant, this is language that endures.

Praise

“The poems are dramatic rushes of words, vibrant and intense…. Some are bizarre narratives fusing the wild ‘slanguage’ of Eliza Clark and Ondaatje-like exotica.”

—George Elliott Clarke

“Although A Catalogue of Falling, we see in this second book by Méira Cook a poet in full free-fall flight, and although we may not always know exactly where she is going or where she is coming from, she can always astound us. These are poems of motion, of the gerund, always busy, always. I have the sense of a motion picture being laid out frame by frame, impossibly contained and stilled, stalled in paper.” [Read full review »]

—Shane Rhodes, The Fiddlehead

“In only her second full book-length collection of poetry, Winnipeg poet Méira Cook writes brilliant and dazzling poems of smoke and mirrors, sensuality and musical tones. Most Canadian poetry these days seems to suffer emotional trauma, as though emotions are things to be ashamed of . . . Cook, on the other hand, isn’t afraid to get her feet wet, hands dirty, reveling in beauty and open heart movement. It’s impossible to listen to the cadence of her lines without being moved.”

—Rob McLennan, Xpress, Ottawa

“Although Méira Cook has what some might call a morbid imagination, what’s even more striking is the way beauty is juxtaposed with, or blooms out of, death and decay.” [Read full review »]

—Amy Barratt, Malahat Review

“In the field of contemporary Canadian poets Méira Cook stands out. With a queer glare in her eye, with trappings at the end of her pen, and with a gentle sense for what is authentic and genuine amongst a jumbled and ruined lexicon, we are cautioned to read her words with care. They are dangerous, unpredictable and, I suspect, fodder for many poets to come.”

—Todd Bruce, Prairie Fire

“Falling can be hard — goodbye to the childhood swing of innocence — but with “each word a mouthful / of pale green wine,” Cook’s description of the kinds of falling, of the “graphic” faces of the fallen, carries the consolation of being described beautifully.”

—William Robertson, NeWest Review

“Méira Cook both observes and newly creates an engagingly lopsided society. This witty and well-varied collection [. . .] maintains a nice balance of energy and control. There are many rings in her poetic circus and she manages to keep them all active without a stumble.”

—Allan Brown, The Antigonish Review

“This is mature poetry that teases one into thought.”

—Don Precosky, CBRA

“This is Cook’s second work and she has created little slices of enduring pieces that will rock you, haunt you, taste you.”

—Margo Laing, Dandelion

“There is too much going on in these poems to do justice here. Therefore, as a sort of shorthand, I present this fairly absurd (in its diversity) list of writers Méira Cook reminds me of, if only a little bit: e.e. cummings, Toni Morrison, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Adrienne Rich, Michael Ondaatje, Elizabeth Bishop, Erin Mouré. If your taste runs to any of the above, I would recommend running straight out and buying Toward a Catalogue of Falling.

—Amy Barratt, Hour, Montréal

 

Awards

SHORTLISTED – 1997 Pat Lowther Award

SHORTLISTED – 1997 McNally Robinson Book of the Year Award

Excerpt

Diptych I

According to Brueghel when Icarus fell it was spring.
William Carlos Williams

Perhaps it is always spring
when we fall.
The first is easy, a gush
of green the blood
rising in high chambers
like sap. It is the other
that confounds
the falling.

To fall
in love asleep downstairs
of those three I have fallen
twice. The one is gentle
a laying on of hands, the other
hard my body clicking
open and shut, a turnstile.
But I have never fallen
as Icarus
from grace.

Poor Icarus who suffered
from hubris and oedipus
in equal measure, now
there is a fall for you.
Imagine wanting to please
daddy and snub god
at the same time.

No wonder he spun
into that blank ocean wax
dripping from the blades
of shoulders, legs scissoring
the seam of sea and sky.

But it was spring when Icarus
fell
in love asleep downstairs
and out of the sky.

We have his legs to remember this by.

Purchase

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