Not a narrative. Not an essay. Not a shopping list. Not a song. Not a diary. Not an etiquette manual. Not a confession. Not a prayer. Not a secret letter sent through the silent Palace hallways before dawn. Making a daybook of oblivion, A Pillow Book leads the reader on a darkly comic tour through the dim-lit valley of fitful sleep. The miscellaneous memoranda, minutiae, dreamscapes, and lists that comprise this book-length poem disclose a prismatic meditation on the price of privilege; the petty grievances of marriage, motherhood, art, and office politics; the indignities of age; and the putative properties of dreams, among other themes, set in the dead of winter in a Midwestern townhouse on the eve of the end of geohistory. Feather-light in its touch, quixotic in its turns, and resolutely deadpan in its delivery, A Pillow Book offers a twenty-first-century response to a thousand-year-old Japanese genre which resists, while slyly absorbing, all attempts to define it.
Buffam’s pillow may not inspire sleep, but it does inspire smart, relevant writing.
A Pillow Book is one of the most finely controlled, subtly structured books of Canadian poetry in recent memory...
Suzanne Buffam’s third poetry collection, A Pillow Book (House of Anansi), takes the reader into the haze-filled world of the insomniac, turning the half-muddled thoughts of sleepless-ness into irreverent, sharp and meditative poems.
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