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Stop! Look! Listen! Simon Brown’s Reading Recommendation

When I read Lisa Jarnot, it makes me want to write. So, given my frequent creative slumps, I keep Lisa’s collections close to my writing desk. I love all of them, but Ring of Fire is perhaps my favourite. It’s the kind of book you can either open up anywhere and plunge into for two minutes, or let yourself become engrossed, and reread the whole thing. In Lisa’s poetry, the banal and sacred seem to inhabit the same space, one sculpted out of language that is sometimes playful and childlike, sometimes serious and biblical, or even cosmic. She sometimes writes compact verses using rhyme and older-feeling forms, and sometimes goes in other directions altogether, following run-on, repetitive sentences into dizzyingly opaque prose pieces. But throughout, her work has a sort of ineffable energy I don’t seem to come across often in poetry. 

I am here inside the freezer where you left me, I am the unobstructed silence of the avocado dawn, I am the neighborhood of foreign things, I am the telemarketer of evening, I have only donuts and the doors are locked. (p. 28) 

Lisa Jarnot seems to write and publish slowly, which perhaps helps gives her work some of its distinctive texture. Her latest collection, A Princess Magic Presto Spell (Flood, 2019), was authored over ten years, apparently at a pace of three words a day. In addition to writing poetry, she runs a landscaping company, and recently became a minister of the Reformed Church in America. 

Simon Brown (he/they) is an interdisciplinary artist, poet, performer, and translator from New Brunswick (Peskotomuhkati traditional territory) based in the Quebec City area (Wendat and Abenaki traditional territory). Simon’s artist books, chapbooks, and collections have been published by Vanloo, Moult, Le laps, squint press, Paper Pusher, Frog Hollow, and above/ground press.

Read Simon Brown's translation of Khalid El Morabethi poem "Articule Panda" in Issue 296 (Summer Poetry 2023)

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