Teethmarks offers a cutting examination of contemporary society, from the personal to the global. The "fuzzy" simplicity of childhood at the book's outset is deftly shadowed by details of cigarette butts in the girl's room, the scent of burning leaves and teeth marks on Barbie dolls (From the dog, Terry assures her, when he was a puppy.) From there on in, Queyras embarks on a dynamic exploration of form in poems sharply aware of shifting boundaries, groundlessness, the seedy pastoral of childhood and the difficulty of maintaining community and family in our increasingly fragmented lives. Teeth Marks merges lives constructed by B-movies and the daily news, transposing their black-and-white "realities" with palettes of vital colour.
There are images and motifs you encounter each and every day - on the street, at your workplace, on the television news. From the buzzings in our brains from too much advertising and cultural junk food we no longer connect with what really matters to us. These poems are a bracing, rousing attempt to break through that apathy. By assaulting our conventions of taste, by subjecting readers to steadily intensifying shocks of recognition, Queyras modifies our own perceptions and creates a really thoughtful and provocative record of the spirit of our times. There has been a lot written about the spirit of our orderly yet purpose-less existence: it's called advertising and it's ingratiated itself into everything we strive for. Teethmarks is a gutsy, enthralling effort to bring words themselves - in all their sing-song beauty and horror - back to us. Wow . . .
-Chris Devito, CO-OP/CiTR/CJSF Radio
Poems Chaotic and Sparkling
By Jacqueline Turner
Publish Date: 21-Oct-2004
The collected poems of Sina Queyras's Teethmarks (Nightwood Editions, $16) sprawl across the space of the book like clothes scattered across the floor of a messy room. You can enter, pick something up, hold it up to your chest, and see if you like it. Queyras welcomes you into the room of a poem where "on aubergine linen we lounge, full/prow and longing for something hard/and easy: palm on palm we/are dreaming each other in leather". She asks you to make yourself comfortable.
Once you're in, she invites you to look through literary snapshots, to imagine how books and the literary figures who haunt them might affect you. In "What Books Our Lives Have Become":
You with Rochester tonguing
lurid suggests, Swift holding
court in our bedroom, applause...
It is a luxurious mess, a "slender, fractured state", and you're not afraid to lean back against the edge of the bed, kick off your shoes.
Now that you're comfortable, however, a road trip is proposed and you're off in the conflated landscape of Brooklyn and Winnipeg, Vancouver and New Jersey. Soon you're discussing memories of childhood road trips, describing the interiors of cars.
You start to realize Sina thinks like a woman, and that view is full of consequences. Her poetic lines can be clipped to the absolute breaking point to convey the fractured nature of our lives, or go on without stopping, showing how we relentlessly push ourselves: "Tissue and lace gown, orderly, maudlin,/letter, crumpled chenille, photo, candle burning, hairspray,/long blonde hair, huge ass, tits, uncased pillows spearmint leaves, sugar-coated..." Queyras effectively brings together the little and the large, leaving you lots to hang on to, ways to join in.
"Teethmarks tackles the terrifying territory of loss and love, yet avoids sentimentality. While opening doors to the dark truths of childhood, it also reveals the irony of living in the abundance and squalor that is present-day America... A provocative and satisfying book... well worth rereading and pondering."
-Jennifer Boire, Prairie Fire
"These poems evoke the contemporary scene of New Jersey with details like discarded water bottles and old condoms; they look back into the area's history, and travel out on the highways to the places where the city stretches past littered roads and power lines into the wild... The poem ['Me Victorious'] is as frantic as a yuppie who gleans from their kid's Ritalin supply, and it should be read aloud... Queyras describes the twisted adult world through the eyes of a child with a sense of wonder and dread... [and] shows it is better to get to know the dark side rather than pretend it's all rainbows and smiley sunshine."
-Ian Sullivan, Matrix
"Queyras's poems are solidly grounded on a distinct sense of place. These various locations incisively and persistently point to aspects of "home": first, because of their active engagement with and relentless interrogation of the present and the self, and second, because of their frank and vivid portrayal of parental figures and childhood/teenage moments."
-Lydia Forssander-Song, Canadian Book Review
"Teethmarks is a gutsy, enthralling effort to bring words themselves - in all their sing-song beauty and horror - back to us. Wow . . ."
-Chris Devito, CO-OP/CiTR/CJSF Radio
"Her poetic lines can be clipped to the absolute breaking point to convey the fractured nature of our lives, or go on without stopping, showing how we relentlessly push ourselves . . . Queyras effectively brings together the little and the large, leaving you lots to hang on to, ways to join in."
-Jacqueline Turner, The Georgia Straight