Drawing inspiration from the medieval French poem Roman de la Rose and the work of cultural theorist Walter Benjamin, Carr’s book is a poetic theorizing of beauty and form, tacitly asking what it is – energy? conciousness? imagination? – that flows as matter into forms as diverse as fonts or bodies, or words, or that pools into discrete emotions, or freezes into argumentative stance.
Carr’s work succeeds where so much poetry aiming for this degree of theoretical sophistication fails through its formal understanding that the way poetic language makes a reader feel their own body, or experience the “bodiliness” of language. Carr achieves an exquisite balance of sensual fleshiness, confession and conceptual abstraction: “I mistook love for an ending / An ending love for a mistake,” she writes, then quickly follows with, “It is not easy to maintain the position of a barrette. If it is heavy with ornamentation it slides down. It resembles a philosophical proof loaded with metaphor.” It’s a rare pleasure to read a poet who pushes, with both reverence and humour, the limits of theoretical rigour and yet is brave enough to write a pink book about roses, capital-L love, and barrettes.
Sonnet L’Abbé is the author of two books of poetry, A Strange Relief and Killarnoe. She lives and writes in Vancouver.