First of all, I have to come clean - I know the poet whose book I'm recommending here. But that's not why I'm writing about it - I'm writing about it because it's great!
Elly Nobbs' The Invisible Girl won the 2013 Doire Press Competition, and reading it, one can see why. Her poetry is rooted in rural Canada, with poems about family, and cattle, and collecting firewood; but it zooms its way through science and science fiction as well, in poems ranging from the microscopic (amoebae) and the infinite (space).
In Re-Write, she raises questions about reality and truth; and what a poem is, and what it's for. The poem recounts a family disaster when the cows died, but starts
We're supposed to lie in poems:
so here's one
Threading the poem through with repetitions of 'I suppose', and the dreadful concrete details of the cows' suffering -
...their stomachsand her father
blew up like olive green balloons
stuck their bellies with Mom's carving knife,- the speaker holds off till the very end to reveal which part of her story was the lie.
let out the fermented gas, called the vet -
who couldn't help. Kaput. Like that.
In The Cure, the small world of the speaker echoes the smallness of our everyday experience:
Days are like zoos. It's unnatural
and tiresome under the grey microscope
in this tiny room where I get paid
to tally invisible deadbut in Space Ship Captain, the poem from which the collection's title is taken, when a girl is assigned the task to
insects in brine...
invisible bits of
things into piles -
one room's for wings
with black holes;
nonsclerotized bits with no pronotumsshe decides to do something else with the bits, and makes herself an 'Apollo Saturn V rocket'. By Act II the 'Invisible Girl' is breaking into NASA, and by the end, she's off on her travels, and, at least to herself, invisible no more.
must go some-
This collection is sparkling with wit and weirdness, and at times as playful as a puppy, but its concerns are deep and universal. It's a magical collection, and well worth ordering all the way from Canada. As Bill Greenwell says, 'Elly Nobbs writes like Emily Dickinson on Mescalin'. Who could ask for more?
The Invisible Girl is available here.