Walk away before you are threadbare / Preserve your strength, preserve your curly hair / For others' use. Least I can do. / Let your fabric relax, snap back to mold / Another body and reveal its gold. A collection of 120 sonnets in eight parts, Trio reveals, frame by frame, a married fortysomething female narrator in love with two younger men - an intellectual and a dancer - and torn between the claims of body and mind. In the tradition of Renaissance sonnet sequences from Petrarch onward, the narrator's love objects are constantly before her eyes, and thus before ours, creating compassion, comedy, and desire. They are real and imaginary, opposite and complementary, present and unavailable, autonomous and dependent. Tolmie’s characters circle and shadow one another in every dance, spinning until fantasy becomes flesh and entanglement. In immortalizing the beloved, she draws on the power of both poetic and human reproduction. Like the contact improvisation modern dance form that influences the collection, these poems are both expressive and analytical. Through a singular feminist revision of a traditional poetic form, they tell the story - sometimes raunchy, sometimes crushingly sad - of a strong protagonist and the predicament she's in.
Sarah Tolmie is associate professor of English at the University of Waterloo. Her books include the novel The Stone Boatman and the short story collection NoFood.
What a sensually moving, wildly fun, bitingly intelligent, uniquely playful, and downright witty collection of sonnets! Tolmie’s Trio is a beautifully sad and deeply aware love poem that moves like lovers and dancers. It is a home for modern love – self -love, partnership, commitment and pain held in the arms of the traditional sonnet form that in its passionate present-day storytelling, elevates the form into an engaging re-imagining that is excitingly challenging yet addictive. Trio’s narrator is a woman to know – to dance with, to make love to, to fight with, to love. – Pat Lowther Memorial Award jury