Slovenly Love is Méira Cook's third book of poetry. A Fine Grammar of Bones and Toward a Catalogue of Falling, both collections of lyrics, are now joined by a fascinating long poem composed of five sequences. "A Year of Birds" sensuously explores erosion of self in the gain of new life in motherhood; "Blue Lines" concerns a woman and her double, the imperishable self she "left" to become the self she is; "Trawling: a biography of the river" introduces Heraclitus into the Winnipeg Flood of 1997, the Red River becoming a river of the mind; "Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville," an extended meditation on varieties of dislocation between art and reality, focuses on Robert Doisneau's famous photograph of the same title; "Tempestuous" is a passionate, Miranda-centred reading of Shakespeare's The Tempest. Each sequence is distinct, but together they explore a life of gap, fragment, flux. "Ah swift-wingèd youth," says a voice in "Trawling," "the world is, was, and ever will be full of wonder." Slovenly Love, in its exhilarating renovation of words and forms, gorgeously confirms that.
Says she favours tattoos, impermanent
as the memory of these blue lines. Hey,
beautiful, throw me a line, she calls,
too low to hear. Every third word slightly
erased, as if blurred by a wet thumb. Always
known we are lost in a long poem, fragmented
to gloss memory, she says.
Nevertheless, she adds, treading water,
I am not as melancholy as I seem to be
when that complaint escapes me.
— from "Blue Lines"
" ... Cook's ability to turn an image into something unexpected makes standard subject matter ... into a genuinely intriguing meditation."--Alison Calder, Winnipeg Free Press
" ... A serene and powerful mixture of heart and craft ... Cook writes an essential musicality ... with a tone unlike any other."--rob mclennan