Saturday, November 19, 2005

Gil Adamson & Shannon Bramer

Two writers I wouldn’t mind seeing more of, Adamson and Bramer have published consistently intriguing, dynamic work. Ashland, in some ways a feminist version of Ondaatje’s Collected Works of Billy the Kid, is an arresting, gritty read. From the title sequence:
In survival dreams I am bullet-proof, running, I resemble a cave, I go through myself. I tell myself that I exist, but basically: ha! There is no bone in my arm, no maharajah playing god in the hallway, no dark toothpick in the thigh…
These poems have as much bite as the world they depict; they are as hard-boiled as the women they present. Here, from Mary:
The midwife baptized the baby
with a cup of melted snow.
she said, “He won’t last,”
and he didn’t.
I love this narrator and would have went more places with her. That may be my only quibble, more please, more story, more bigger. In an interview with This Magazine Adamson says she is writing a novel set in the early part of the twentieth century in the town of Frank—famous for the mountain slide that buried it. I have long been fascinated by that event myself, and can’t wait to see what she does with it.

Bramer’s Refrigerator Memory contains some wonderfully, and as Prairie Fire points out, deceptively simple, prose poems. One of my all time favourites—which I had dog-eared in Grain Magazine where I first read it—is “Our Prosthesis”, winner of 2003’s prose poem contest:
On Saturday night I hid his prosthetic arm. He was drunk, it was easy, when he tried to run after me he stumbled, fell, hit his head on the corner of the coffee table. I was drunk too, sad, acting stupidly. Earlier that night he had been flirting with my sister and I felt neglected and negligible next to her in her pink sweater. I didn’t like the way he kept touching her with his false limb; I didn’t like the way she kept giggling at the strange feel of the plastic. I had paid for his prosthesis, after all, so perhaps this explains my possessiveness. When we got home we kept drinking. Before bed I started undressing him: his socks, his pants, his underwear, his sweater, his shirt, his arm. He came after me and fell. His forehead bled all over the carpet. I hid his arm in the basement. Dressed his wound. Put him to bed. Showered. Made tea. I read The Idiot until deep into the night. My sister doesn’t even know who Dostoyevsky is.
Deceptively simple, and highly readable, Bramer’s third book is a pocketful of joy with sufficient dark shadows and flickers of light in places most of us don’t want to venture into. Smart, too. Did I mention smart? Finally, Quill and Quire and I agree on something…

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