With her remarkable debut collection, Yukon poet Clea Roberts proffers a perceptive & ecological reading of the Canadian North’s past & present.
Roberts deftly draws out the moments that comprise a cycle of seasons, paying as much attention to the natural—the winter moon’s second-hand light that pools in the tracks of tree squirrels & loose threads of migrating birds—as she does to the manufactured—the peripheral percussion of J-brakes & half-melted ice lanterns. She also casts her gaze back to the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897-1898, raising the voices of those marked by a frenetic race for fortune: a seductive, edgy wolf, a disillusioned photographer, and a pragmatic prostitute, among others.
Here Is Where We Disembark is a beautifully crafted book that ignites the senses, and its presence lingers, like woodsmoke, long after the final page has been turned.
“You know you’ve found a real poet when she observes that mud, in a Yukon springtime, was ‘never so exotic, / tracked across the kitchen floor.’ Clea Roberts has taken the time to learn the craft, make her peace with metaphor, and carve out her own space, becoming as comfortable with the meditative lyric as she is with a raft of wonderful personas.”
“There is a northerly edge to Clea Roberts’ poems, and it extends past the obvious content. It has to do with exquisite frostbitten brevities; it has to do with imagining northern space with scrupulous musically-tuned attention; and—not least—it has to do with an awareness of snow’s ‘convincing logic,’ capable of pulling you ‘softly/into a ditch’ and sending explanations of ‘eider and light.’ These are poems whose delight lies in seeing, and listening, afresh.”
“These luminous poems invite us to step into the ineluctable, into the spaces murmuring between the domestic and the untameable. From many perspectives—historical, social, biological—Roberts’ keen poetic intelligence imagines an ecology of inclusion that the landscape of the north, or of any particular ‘here,’ calls us to.”