Thistledown, 80 pp, $12.95, softcover.
Mari-Lou Rowley slows the line down so you can hear the syllabic compliments, the weight of heavy blossoms. She continually interrupts typical poetic metaphors of growth and progress.
Her Interference With the Hydrangea traverses the local landscape while she stops to contemplate the ground on which she walks, leaps, and writhes in pain or ecstasy. In one of her "confession" poems, she writes: "rapture, trapped and ruptured in public, an event almost this disentailing, snared remnants of skin atrial shudder the heart's fissure".
Rowley often moves through sonically, letting sound lead the way. Not always, unfortunately. When she writes "for" people, those poems must bear the excess sentiment. Sometimes the epigraph is enough and you might wish she had stopped right there: in the epigraph to "Leopard Frog": "Toad-licker the headlines say. Gary Murphy, dead at 32, the headstone says."
Still, it's not a place where she falls too often. Mostly, her writing is sharp and fast like the prose poems, including the title one, "Interference With the Hydrangea"--such a perfect Vancouver poem. These poems listen in on conversations, consider personal choice, question self-improvement, and ponder the need for self-doubt.
The great thing about Interference is the way huge concepts get brought to life through small, almost mundane details; how you can predict the future in the "infinity of words the way a scream at night mingles with a dog's bark the hum of satellites".
It's a hum that resonates.