I’m working on a new post on some local ‘zines in advance of the upcoming Ottawa ‘Zine Off event, but just the other day I received an envelope from Toronto poet and longtime zinester Sarah Pinder with three neat little poetry ‘zines (or chapbooks, the nomenclature here is irrelevant and fuzzy).
Pinder posted recently on her blog that she was giving away some old minis for the low, low price of telling her what I was reading at the time (Sandra Ridley’s Post-Apothecary and Melville’s Moby-Dick, the latter aloud with my lovely girlfriend; an adventure, an odyssey, a near constant requirement of throatwettening wine). My having divulged this dark and terrible secret, Pinder was good enough to keep her word.
torch song/fragments – June 2010
“my name muted to the bending plaster, leaving heavy
in the doorway of my mouth, ever-new”
Aptly titled “fragments” (or possibly “torch song,” equally apt) the oldest of the minis consists of one – three lines per page, each a little sketch of a moment or mood. It occurs to me that “torch song” is a peculiar phrase to have come into popular currency; there’s that image of carrying a torch for unrequited love that must have root in some ancient custom or forgotten literary twist of phrase. Holding aloft this burning light until your arms are sore and you’re all shitty with smoke gets at the true absurdity of loving someone who doesn’t love you back. Of course you could just go find someone else / of course you won’t.
Anyway, Pinder’s fragments have an early morning, raccoon-eyed fragility, a mess of mys and wes and ours and hers that come of a person trying to put herself back together in the midst of absence; as I read it anyway, minimalist writing tends to reflect the reader as much as it does the writer.
The Rye House – October 2010
“New Year’s Day
Her face seen through
the poinsettia that poisoned the cat.
Between us, the olive plate,
the pile of fatted bones
in scalloped porcelain,
I’ve always been somewhat influenced by covers, record sleeves etc. when it comes to associating colour with non-visual art; whether it’s the cover or not, The Rye House poems have a grey taste to me. Purports to be inspired by “A cardboard box of photographs left at the curb,” and these bits are concerned with physical memories, the importance we attach to photographic preservation, how little can be gleaned from these without context. Who is Sidney E. Young or Son-in-Law Tony, forever about to embarrass himself with an axe? Just footprints of light. Mostly short lines here, because what else is there to say, really?
Cards down – April – May 2012 (75 copies)
“The nauseous knowledge of possessing ‘ham strings’ made me quit ballet.”
As all small things are adorable (babies, marmosets, genitalia), Pinder’s tiny Cards down looks cute. But like many small things (babies, marmosets, genitalia), they’re less cute when you open them up. Written after philosopher-poet Lyn Hejinian (not familiar with her work, but I’m guessing her semi-novel My Life is the touchstone here), Cards down is focused on breaking down experience (and experience of life via language) into its processes, structures, atoms. This focus is like watching someone strapped in a chair realizing gradually they’ve actually been trapped in their body all along and, further, trapped in their mind. Pinder’s frustration has a clenched viciousness to it, but Cards down, with its reflections on soft porn and blotting the grease off of pepperoni pizza is not without humour. The most recent and strongest of these ‘zines.
Pinder’s package to me came with a postcard advertising her new book Cutting Room, from the venerable Couch House Books. I’ll be sure to have a look at it. She was also kind enough to include some extra copies of Cards down and Rye House to distribute at the Ottawa ‘Zine Off; if you ask me nice-like, I might left you have some!
Pinder’s blog -> go now!