In Faceless, Genni Gunn explores "the impulse for the edge," a magnetic field between the gloss of the topside world and the grit of the world beneath. Both these landscapes are fascinating and treacherous, haunted by faces that are obsessively worn and shed, torn off and replaced, where identity itself is arbitrary. Impersonation, even of oneself, is the rule. In a piano bar, the musician is a chameleon adapting to the faceless men who sit around her piano. The faceless cadavers in the notorious BodyWorlds exhibits stalk the rooms while, in Gunn's title poem, an ordinary French woman finds redemption in the world's first face transplant after being mauled in a strange accident by her pet dog. To be anonymous in today's urban places is to be free yet isolated, to be in a constant flux of longing for and fear of "the dead and beating heart," both in one's own breast and those faltering in the chests of others. The countless faces that Gunn confronts on the streets of the city or behind closed doors make her important new book such a compelling read–as does the "delicious anxiety" she sees hanging in ecstatic, sometimes terrifying suspense in the liminal spaces between.
Genni Gunn is a writer, musician and translator. Born in Trieste, Italy, she came to Canada when she was eleven. She has published nine books: three novels – Solitaria, Tracing Iris and Thrice Upon a Time, two short story collections – Hungers and On The Road, two poetry collections – Faceless and Mating in Captivity, and translated from the Italian two collections of poems. Two of her books have also been translated into Italian.
Her work has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the John Glassco Translation Award and the Gerald Lampert Award, and her novel Tracing Iris is being made into a feature film. Her opera Alternate Visions premiered in Montreal in 2007 and was projected in a simulcast at The Western Front in Vancouver. Before she turned to writing full-time, Genni toured Canada extensively with a variety of bands (bass guitar, piano and vocals). Since then, she has performed at hundreds of readings and writers’ festivals. She lives in Vancouver, where she teaches half-time at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
“In the poems in Faceless, Genni Gunn explores the many masks worn and peeled away in attempts at formulating identity, influencing opinion and finding a place in vast, nullifying or unforgiving landscapes. Sometimes it is nature masking itself as benign, when in reality it has the "furious will" of a wrecking ball, smashing things in its path on the predictably unpredictable cycle of birth, growth and death… When a vital part of physical identity is taken away—as in the title poem where a French woman's face has been ripped off by her own dog, or in "Hands" where two Mexican women each lose a hand in successive industrial accidents—there is only emptiness left behind, and an even greater yearning for acceptance by the world.”