Shortlisted, Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize
Standing in the granite of his own voice.
Remembering your gathering body.
Hello, My Forever Ago, don't worry,
you won't be reading this much longer.
You will have already returned
in a snowcloud, which is suggestively,
fashionably, only ever one second old.
Yes, Darling, it's me, it says
as proof that in space
though there are many silences,
fleeting isn't the opposite
of infinite, but its perfect match.
Four years ago, Ali Blythe arrived with Twoism, a remarkable debut collection, every line shimmering with life and shivering with erotically charged glimpses of completeness. Now in Hymnswitch, Blythe takes up the themes of identity and the body once again, this time casting an eye backwards and forwards, visiting places of recovery and wrestling with the transition into one's own skin. Readers will find themselves holding their breath at the risk and beauty and difficulty of the balance Blythe strikes in the midst of ineffable complexity.
Combining a stark, tensile precision with musicality that lulls and surprises, Blythe, a surreal engineer of language, has once again created an unusually memorable collection. Imbued with emotional awareness, these stunning poems will imprint readers with startling images and silences as potent as words.
"An intimate, attentive and patiently affecting book that lives up to all of the possibilities of its title. Meditating on time, god(s), gender, sobriety and love, the intelligence at work here is intellectual and emotional — courage in the service of discovery, which at its core is a surrender to vulnerabililty. Mirroring Blythe's speaker, a witness to the transcendant banal, with these poems I too feel my body cultivating a 'readiness/to let unprepared sounds/drown out/the great orchestration.' How much I love this experience of becoming. How grateful I am to Ali Blythe for the 'snowcloud' of this infinite gift."
"Ali Blythe pierces your skins, awakening perceptions you had allowed to settle under the surface. His poetry moves from spontaneous play to sober reflection, gently capturing our impermanence."
"Combining allusions to Greek mythology and reflections on sobriety with references to sex and surgery, his poems entwine multiple processes of becoming, refracting each through the others. Throughout the collection, one finds little moments of linguistic surprise"
"Ali Blythe's Hymnswitch wears the good, solid boots of language to trek through the unsendable here of daily decision. Here the little bent nails of punctuation assemble to testify to the bruised thumbs and split silence of hammerblows and timbercrack. The hands of the clock, like those little nails, tick past in a recitation of clarity."