"those of us who've seen miracles know how to ask. / if you've asked, do you love me, i almost certainly / don't love you." This meditative, musically attentive collection explores the confounding nature of intimate relationships. stephanie roberts's poetic expression is often irreverent, unapologetic, and infused with humour that can take surprisingly grave turns. rushes from the river disappointment traverses city, country, and fantasy using nature as artery through the emotional landscape. As they wrestle to come to terms with the effects of uncertainty and grief on hope and belief, these diverse field notes are interspersed with the fabulous: a polar bear and owl engage in flirtation, a time traveller appears on a lake, an erotic scene takes place on a train, and we confront "people capable of eating popcorn at the movie of your agony." roberts's language is dense with images and sometimes acrobatic. In poems that affirm love and desire as treasures fought for more than just felt, rushes from the river disappointment turns an unblinking gaze on the failures of courage that distance us from love.
About the author
A citizen of Canada, Panama, and the United States, stephanie roberts is the prize-winning author of The Melting Potential of Fire. roberts is based in Quebec.
- Short-listed, A. M. Klein Prize for Poetry
"roberts speaks with clarity and certainty, in a firm and haunting voice. This is an author clearly driven by a need to articulate what is missed. She is unafraid to end a poem abruptly and to let the quiet that follows do some of the speaking. She's also clearly having fun – with physics, with form, with the second grammar of the line break, and with memories joyous and shocking and neither and both." QWF A.M. Klein jury
"A sweeping force of music, pulsing images, clear wit, and tenderness. Within beautifully formed poems, there is extensive consideration of what we can understand about love and grief alongside faith and "unbelief " over time." Montreal Review of Books
"How lucky we are in this heartbreaking world to have roberts's compelling voice of beauty, humour, and depth. Through these stunning poems, roberts 'effortlessly holds up the universe.' A gorgeous collection essential for every reader and every bookshelf." Kelli Russell Agodon, author of Hourglass Museum
"Deep sorrow and cautious joy etch themselves onto the bodies that populate this book, whether they belong to cities, seasons, or animals that speak with assuring tongues. roberts writes with a sharpness that cuts with one hand and soothes with the other. Her work shifts the earth from beneath your feet." Kanika Lawton, editor in chief, L'Éphémère Review
Perfectly titlesThe book moves in a drowning rush of water, and gives a heady rush. The language surprises and the word choices are densely brocaded and sumptuous— "each spring a hesitation/the surface/of lindens throb ebonized by rain". It has starkly staked its truths "because pain don't care/what makes sense".
Within the awareness of ache there's a sense of agency fighting back, conscious of mind watching body thrash, listening knowing one must give the body the dignity of going through what it must, "into the toothsome sustenance of thriving" enduring sometimes feeling vaguely absurd about changing planned course and compensate for the "all to avoid a face/at your hair and height". Yes, sometimes we flinch and that's okay. It's a kindness to self, considering. One embraces this and the good, "tongue blueberries/from palms trusted/not to hurt you."
One goes forward, communicates though "whatever sieve can tongue it".
It's inspiring in form and content.