I Do Not Think That I Could Love A Human Being by Johanna Skibsrud

Completed: 16 January 2011

Skibsrud, Johanna. I Do Not Think That I Could Love A Human Being. Kentville: Gaspereau Press, 2010.

Completed: 16 January 2011

Johanna Skibsrud will be more familiar to readers for her recent GG winning novel, The Sentimentalists.  Instead of tackling that particular book I thought that I’d have a stab at her poetry.  Prior to The Sentimentalists Skibsrud had published a book of poetry and since she has published a second.  This is her second poetry collection.

When I read poetry I usually keep the book by my bedside and only read 2 or 3 poems a night.  It gives me a chance to think about the poems.  Anything that seems interesting, that I feel warrant’s another look I mark with a post-it sticky.  These poems I go back to and read a second time, perhaps even two or three more times after I have completed the book.  Sometime, what was interesting the first time around is less so on second reading.  Often further readings deepen my appreciation of the poem. Usually by the time I reach the end of the book there are a number of tabs sticking out of the book.  By the time I reached the end of this collection there was but a single, solitary tab sticking out of the collection.  This didn’t come as a surprise as I knew the collection was in trouble once I realised that I had put it down and had not read a single poem for a couple of weeks.  It’s not that I disliked the poems.  Rather it’s that the poems did absolutely nothing for me.  Nothing about them caught my attention. The use of language was ordinary, the ideas were ordinary.  Nothing about these poems even struck me as poetic.  They just weren’t interesting.

The collection did get me to thinking about what poetry is.  These works seemed to be little more than narrative pieces with random line breaks inserted into them, as if this were sufficient to give the language a poetic bent.  There was no rhyme. There was no meter.  I realise that these are not necessary for poetry, but I didn’t find anything in the work that I would see a poetic.

Skibsrud is from Nova Scotia but now lives in Montreal.  She will be my 7th provincial poet, counting towards Quebec.

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