Feel Happier in Nine Seconds
Linda Besner, 81 pgs, Coach House Books, chbooks.com, $18.95
The poems in this collection travel a lot of ground but are united in their welcoming whimsy and sarcasm. In short order, Linda Besner becomes your favourite grumpy poet.
In the poem “On Body,” Besner declares: “Art irritating life,” which is a great thesis for this collection. In the best way possible, her poems irritate common tropes and ideas present in poetry, including love, loss, family, and the purpose of life. She addresses profound issues at the heart of being human with an agile lightness. On legacy she writes, “Browsing the earth / for mention of myself, I pretend / I’m being interviewed.”
Besner’s earlier work, The Id Kid, was named one of the National Post’s Best Poetry Books of the Year and it would not be a surprise if this one garnered attention, too. Published by the respected Coach House Press, the collection is tight and flows well. There are some more unusual inclusions, form-wise, notably “Magnetic Variations on One and Six,” which uses coloured text based on the Fisher Price alphabet magnet coloured letter sets. Visually, it is difficult to read, but conceptually, it’s interesting and matches the playfulness of the other poems.
Besner’s poems are contemporary and charming, making for an enjoyable read and leaving us with images of today’s world that will resonate beyond the book. For my part, this line has been popping into my mind whenever I open my internet browser: “Whales hit their heads on our workflow.” (Megan Clark)