Guernica Editions, 2018.
Carol Barbour’s new book of poetry is a heady concoction of sumptuous beauty and dangerous relations – by turns playful, refined, and ferocious. Nudging at the edge of being, the poems evoke the cadence and tremour of a beating heart. Trauma is carefully negotiated, wrestling in a precarious balance between memory and what remains inconceivable. Barbour invites the reader to reflect on human frailty, and the inherent desire to mend relations with others, and with oneself. The poems are intricate ciphers, heroic missals, created to forestall the propensity of life to come undone. Infrangible is an intimate portrait of the artist as a child, a woman, and a lover, in search of meaning, union, and recognition.
Divided in two parts, titled The Broken Vase and Gigantomachy respectively, the collection consists of forty-seven poems, on a range of subjects including motherhood, artistic inspiration, and struggles with power. Infrangible opens with the poem “At First,” which introduces the enigma of inner and outer engagement, and the paradox of freedom through attachment. In the second section titled, “Gigantomachy,” the poems explore the struggles of giants and mortals, and the disequilibrium of scale and power in relationships.
An excerpt from the poem “Gigantomachy”:
The ones who fell
while riding too fast on their chariots.
they ascend in the night sky.
The theme of water and resistance is evoked in the poem titled “The Collective”:
The stream endures and in that sense
One can know how to live by dreaming.
Poem from the collection:
Is about losing one’s head over images.
The body in London,
the head in Copenhagen.
Vanquished, carried away
in the night through clandestine networks,
beheaded subjects make their claims
of selfhood known.
The head of the crime unit is taking
account of the lost objects.
There’s no escape from becoming
a subject like Robin Williams
in the film Baron Munchausen
when he raves
that his body is trapped,
estranged from his mind.
What do art historians study?
Among other things they look at ancient coins,
amulets, hoards along the Thames,
The Bronze and Iron Ages,
Roman Britain at Bath and Somerset,
piles of coins hammered
in animal bones and tree trunks.
Inside jars and along riverbeds.
Art persists when currency fails.
Readings in 2018 and 2019:
The Art Bar Poetry Series, April 10, Free Times Café, 320 College St. Toronto. With Joanna Sworn and Ned Baeck.
Guernica Fall Launch, Sept. 9, Supermarket Restaurant and Bar, 268 Augusta Ave., Toronto,
Bowery Poetry Club, Nov. 11, 308 Bowery, New York, NY, USA. Open Mike.
Boneshaker Reading Series, Dec. 11, Bloor Gladstone Library, Toronto Public Library,With Loren Edizel.
Signature Series, Knife Fork Book, 244 Augusta Ave, 2nd Fl. at The Dark Side Studio, Kensington Market, Toronto. With Sonia di Placido and Dominque Bernier-Cormier.
Secret Handshake Poetry Series, 170A Baldwin Street. With Hanan Hazime, George Zancola, Nick Zisis.