In this experimental long poem sequence, Alyda Faber transforms the portrait poem into runic shapes, ice shelved, sculpted, louvered on a winter shoreline. Twenty years after her mother’s death, Faber untethers herself from the mother she thinks she knows with wild analogies: depicting her mother variously as King Lear’s Kent, a Camperdown elm, a black-capped chickadee, Neil Peart, Pope Innocent X, and a funnel spider.
While embodying the passionate relationship between mother and daughter, Faber’s poems also expose the thorn in the flesh — the inability of mother and daughter to give each other what they most want to give. Endlessly discovered, yet ultimately unknowable, the poet’s mother is complex, mystifying, and unwavering: courageous in her decision to leave all that she knew behind; bewildering in her fidelity to a damaging marriage; steadfast in her devotion to a God who is at once adamant and the source of ephemeral beauty.
About the author
Dust or Fire is Alyda Faber's first book of poetry. Her poems have appeared in the Antigonish Review, Bitterzoet, Contemporary Verse 2, Ensafh. (Etc.), the Malahat Review, the Nashwaak Review, and the Puritan Review, as well as in a chapbook, Berlinale Erotik: Berlin Film Festival. She teaches at the Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax.
“There is no way for a daughter to know her mother as anyone other than a mother. But in Poisonous if Eaten Raw, Faber creates evocative portraits that attempt to bridge this gap of knowing through a process of surreal re-imagination.”
“Like someone who has thoroughly explored and mapped a haunted terrain but then discovers or cuts a path into further fields, Alyda Faber exhausts the possibilities of her remarkable premise, then somehow uncovers even more riches. This collection is crammed with rewards.”
“The cumulative miracle of this book is nothing short of a complex maternal absence made present — unretouched, tense, triumphantly seen.”
“Each poem in Poisonous If Eaten Raw is a portrait and an ecosystem that makes meaning from memory and of a relationship that is the origin of longing and is singular to each of us. How do we make sense of our mothers? The pain they endured, the pain they created? This is a poet pushing past memory into a present and deeper understanding that’s brimming with empathy and a way forward. And this is remembering in motion: vivid and audacious, moving into and out from its source.”
“Faber’s work is exquisite ... a product of real courage, and an unequivocal success.”
“In an effort to apprehend what it is to be a daughter, Alyda Faber draws myriad likenesses of her strong-willed and loving mother through those objects or obsessions that bring her to life. With a gaze as emotive and focused as Frida Kahlo’s, Faber has assembled a retrospective of still lives and maternal history paintings by employing a poetic line that is at times a turbulent impasto and at others the calm crosshatchings of a pencil sketch.”
“Her language is precise and concise, both apt and original — ‘admirably idiosyncratic,’ to quote the book’s cover blurb — two qualities that are not easily combined.”
<i>The New Quarterly</i>