Chap­book, Alyssa Bridg­man, above/ground press, $5

Broken Pencil - - Zine Reviews -

Be­gin­ning a chap­book with Pink Floyd lyrics and a bright lime-green doesn’t

tell me much about what to ex­pect from this chap­book. Like the cover colour, Bridg­man’s po­ems are ar­rest­ing.

Chart­ing the et­y­mo­log­i­cal his­tory of the word “hedge” and end­ing with a po­lit­i­cal plea (“I want a world where the word bor­der is not a brick”), this work com­bines the pleas­ant ten­der­ness of a gar­den with the ten­sion of world that sur­rounds it.

These po­ems are acutely aware they are not alone. They are al­ways look­ing out or keep­ing in, pre­vent­ing or al­low­ing some­thing to pass, cre­at­ing the “or­ganic barbed wire” ref­er­enced in the poem “Quick hedge.” Bridg­man draws at­ten­tion to how some­thing so nat­u­ral (a thick­leafed, bright green, brushy plant) can be made into some­thing so un­nat­u­ral, as she ex­plores in a set of haiku aptly called “Un­nat­u­ral Haikus”:

un­nat­u­ral fence cre­ated out of what was once a com­mon right

Whether she is ref­er­enc­ing land, land own­er­ship, plants, gar­dens, the very right to take up space, I don’t know; re­gard­less, I am moved.

Bridg­man turns, lastly, to the writ­ten word it­self: “but I don’t want to write bricks,” be­gins the third sec­tion of the long poem “Be­tween cracked words.” Per­haps feel­ing trapped by con­ven­tional po­etic struc­ture, Bridg­man re­flects on how she wishes to breathe when writ­ing, to not feel walled in or bogged down or “in the dark room” of an ide­o­log­i­cal echo cham­ber. Let­ting the hedge grow ev­ery which way, left to its own de­vices, untrimmed and un­der­stood as the wild thing it is, is prefer­able, it seems, to the anx­i­ety a closed-off world brings to Bridg­man’s po­etic ef­fort. (Ter­rence Abrahams)

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