Infrangible: Poems

Infrangible (2)

Guernica Editions, 2018.

Review in Prairie Fire

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.


Poem from the collection:


        Art History


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.



Purchase from Guernica Editions



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, 101 Bloor Street West Toronto. 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.


Photo by Deborah Clarkin Rogers