A love story to the emotional self—this heart is tender, but it also has a savage bite.
What does it mean to be the big heart? Or to hope to be the big heart? Or to fail to be that big heart? How far can a heart stretch? How does being a parent stretch it further? How does a heart manage under the pressure of children, of self, of hospital technician, of partner, of death? In this collection, big heartedness is both demand and desire. It emerges from family life—the kid who says to your face that she prefers her other parent; the father monkeying around in the art gallery; the mother who “gets on with it” in silence; the husband, distant and intimate under the marriage yoke. There is also in this collection the stirring of wilder desires than family is supposed to nurture, feelings more fiercely self-assertive than a parent—a mother particularly—is supposed to admit. This collection asks how to rise to the occasions that family presents and also how to let oneself spill over the bounds of familial roles.
Venart’s poems reach into the past but don’t get lost there; they look the present in the face—they have to: the clock is ticking, the children calling, there are hot dogs to be sliced and the dog won’t walk itself. The title is ironic. And also kind of secretly stoically hoping that it's not ironic. But it is:
…And now everyone is arrow
arrow, arrows. Everyone harpoons.
And I am the big heart, aren’t I?
When my black dog was being put down, in her last
second I whispered, Squirrel.
About the author
SARAH VENART’s poetry has been published in Numero Cinq, Concrete and River, The New Quarterly, The Malahat Review, The Fiddlehead, This Magazine, Prism International, and on CBC Radio. She is the author of Woodshedding (Brick Books, 2007) and Neither Apple Nor Pear. Sarah lives in Montreal and teaches writing at John Abbott College.
- Long-listed, ReLit Awards
"I am in love with Sarah Venart's I Am the Big Heart. Everywhere is the work of the heart: a speaker full of deep empathy for the world, its charms, callousness, inconsistencies, and great beauty....A world where we live in deep fear and ecstatic longing for the destruction that happens to us all, the doing and undoing of existence, the existential pain of feeling—the incessant thud of being alive." Dorothea Lasky