With its razzle-dazzle wordplay and kaleidoscope of subjects, Sonnet L’Abbé’s second collection of poems is a tour-de-force. L’Abbé invents her own unique poetics, coupling a glittering variety of patterns with tumbling rhythms and rhymes. And with this refreshed language, she reconsiders all the rules for twenty-first-century life. The poems work like a whirlwind, ranging from the intimacy of infancy to the shock of whole civilizations razed by war, and are infused with a political undertone that reveals a child’s emerging understanding of identity, of specific citizenship, of bodies physical and psychological, of language, imagination, and dream. Whether funny or funky, candid or subtle, amused and ironic or stunned in fright, the poems are guided by a fierce intelligence that never oversimplifies the world. Killarnoe, the poet tells us, “is a place I invented right now. I just built it from my head.” And in its reconsideration of what it means to be, Killarnoe is fascinating, charged, and inspired.
Sonnet L’Abbé is a Toronto-born writer of French-Canadian and Guyanese descent. She is the author of two collections of poetry, A Strange Relief and, most recently, Killarnoe. Her work has been internationally published and anthologized. In 2000, she won the Bronwen Wallace Memorial Award for most promising writer under 35. L’Abbé teaches writing at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies and reviews poetry for the Globe and Mail.
“It is unusual for such exceptional talent to be presented in a first collection of poetry, assured and fired with such scope and intensity.…”
—Austin Clarke (on A Strange Relief )