Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Sarah Peters

Someone I know just wrote one of the best books ever. It's nuts. People you know hardly ever do that, write one of the best books ever.

I sort of went to university in Montreal with this Sara Peters person. I think we might have had one class together, and really only knew each other in the Venn diagram chinks of overlapping social circles. I was lucky to get to read her work-in-progress for this brief span that some recent graduates of the Concordia writing program managed to maintain a writing group. Sara's work has always been telluric, and kind of musty and rural; laconic and expansive at the same time. People who know anything about Elizabeth Bishop might see some likeness, but I haven't read enough of Bishop to be one of those people. All of this still holds true, and can be found in her first book, 1996, published by these Anansi guys. If Sara's writing and good sense were strong however many years ago, the stuff's outright Herculean now.

I'm compelled to underline every line in 1996--

From "Cruelty":
When I was eleven, I watched my cousin cut open a gopher
with the serrated top of a tin can.

...everyone, when small
has come in from the river with something half-dead

in the bottom of a bucket, and no one expects that to become
their defining moment.
From "Babysitters":
Secrets thud
like June bugs against screens
and all you have to do is let them in.
From "Wrongheaded":
When later in the day

a crowd of thirty thousand assembled, the sun

spun like a bicycle wheel, then plunged toward the thirty thousand faces.
From "May":
Since it is May

The water's silvered with gaspereau

And she watches as we sieve them up

To spasm on the dock

Gulping splintered air
Rubbing off their spangled skins.
From "Romance":
Ants traveled patiently under our raiment;

the sex was athletic and wise...

and then we touched foreheads
with a new strain of sorrowful dignity,

for although we were rural,

we were never deep enough in to mistake
the humming of wires overhead.
From "My Sister and I, We Know We Are Filth":
My sister and I, we know we are filth, and so we proceed with great caution
when we enter the world that was saved for us--
Reading Sara is like finding money on the ground. You can't believe your good luck, and your new-found wealth, but there's this pang that it's at the expense of someone else's loss. The wealth here is obvious and it's absolute, and it's kind of crazy to think that it's all just been left there, in little piles, for you to scoop up and carry off.

- Andrew


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