With unsettling beauty and a quiet magic, award-winning poet Souvankham Thammavongsa's Cluster will awe and amaze.
PAT LOWTHER MEMORIAL AWARD FINALIST
Acclaimed poet Souvankham Thammavongsa returns with her fourth collection, a book about meaning. Meaning can sometimes blow up, crack something we had not seen, or darken what had been seen so clear to us. Meaning can happen with so little and go on to take so much from us. Meaning can sometimes take a long time to arrive, years even, if ever. And it's possible meaning does not mean, and that in itself could be meaningful. Whatever happens to meaning, it is always there. It means even when you don't want it. Every poem in this book looks at meaning and the ways in which it arrives, if at all.
Souvankham Thammavongsa is the author of three poetry books, Light (2013), winner of the Trillium Book Award for Poetry; Found (2007); and Small Arguments (2003), winner of the ReLit Award. Her writing has appeared in Harper's, Granta, Brick, Best American Non-Required Reading, and other places. She has been in residence at Yaddo and has performed her work at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. She was born in the Lao refugee camp in Nong Khai, Thailand, and was raised and educated in Toronto.
"[O]ne of the most striking voices to emerge in Canadian poetry in a generation." --The Walrus
“Souvankham Thammavongsa has established a reputation as one of Canada’s leading minimalists and technicians of negative space. Rather than being some index of repression, Thammavongsa’s pregnant silences in Cluster evoke the erasure of language and history, flagrant manipulations of the public record, and events that can only be approached obliquely. Her fragments provide a shelter for the reader to dream without fear or censure of what lies beyond the page.” --Quill & Quire
"A deep, searching dive into the ways we create meaning, personally and culturally—from how we see our relationships to how the financial sector operates—and an exploration of the values embedded in our perceptions. The poems often unfold as a series of quiet, simple observations that expand in import. This is particularly true of 'O,' a remarkable meditation that begins by contemplating the shape of the letter . . . and progresses through a series of associative leaps . . . to conclude by questioning the global political and economic order." --Toronto Star
“Here’s where poems become site/sight, where poems contract and expand the head-heart sense, that eighth sense alive in language: here’s another and another and another and another in Souvankham Thammavongsa’s Cluster. . . . her poems make fine work of the art of suggestion by rending, bolt by necessary bolt, the acute and the complex conditions in which language must do its work. Cluster hauls the detritus of years, offers us an otherwise of paths through family and loss and what is found in the eventides that flow from one time to another, in the thing that amounts to what we call ‘life.’” —Canisia Lubrin, Hamilton Review of Books