Explore human identity through the lens of marine animals in ‘Cephalopography 2.0’


Cephalopography 2.0

Rasiqra Revulva, 104 pgs, Wolsak and Wynn, wolsakandwynn.ca, $20

I’m not sure if I’m surprised that a poetry collection about cephalopods (think squid, octopus, so on) would end up being so sensual. On one hand, we’re dealing with deep-sea ocean creatures whose long tentacles and sophisticated movements have been the inspiration for many a campy sci-fi thriller. On the other hand, these elegant and mysterious creatures — some of the most intelligent and agile in the world — define sensuality with their plural brains and swaying multi-limbed bodies.

It is that sensuality that Rasiqra Revulva has heavily leaned into in Cephalopography 2.0. You may want to bring an oxygen tank.

The collection has three distinct styles: standard verse, word art, and “interactive poetry experiences.” The standard verse is beautiful and dripping with imagery. It includes one of the best descriptions of poetry I’ve ever read: “how poetry, the floating science.” The second category, word art, falls a bit flat. There are scientific illustrations and all manner of construction of text but the language and placement were not as intriguing as the verse that preceded it. The last, inter-active section, however, was a wonderful surprise. Employing the structure of newspaper-style activities — crosswords, word find, etc. — the reader is invited to “solve” the puzzles to find the poems. In the face of a long flight or car journey, I would certainly buy a book of these alone. Perhaps the height of the playfulness is the “squidoku.”

Cephalopography 2.0. is an enjoyable read — challenging but also welcoming. I suspect reading the whole book through on a quiet afternoon with octopus videos playing on loop in the background could be very pleasing. The acknowledgments themselves are worth a read because amongst the typical mentors, publications, and editors, aquariums and marine organizations appear. I hope they sell it at the aquarium gift shop.