A Strange Relief by Sonnet L'abbe

A Strange Relief

bySonnet L'abbe

Paperback | April 10, 2001

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The dazzling grace of A Strange Relief marks the debut of a singular young poet, Sonnet L’Abbé. In her delicately architected, but toughly envisioned poems, L’Abbé surveys the world and finds it both beautiful and unjust. She portrays that complex world with luxurious rhythms and a vocabulary that invites us to marvel at language’s infinite possibilities. Whether she is writing about living in Korea in “Cheju Diary,” or about the Aral Sea in “Nomads,” she shows a keen sensitivity that can at once bear witness to the experience of the cultural outsider while vividly imagining the internal struggles of people whose stories are rarely heard within our borders. But these poems, which span the earth, are also literally about shaping that earth. A Strange Relief is very much about making: making who we are, how we live, and also about making poetry itself. L’Abbé’s lyric sequences play on the ear with formal measures and headstrong lines that reinforce her thrillingly varied, but interconnected themes of politics, geography, and love.

About The Author

Born to a seventh-generation Franco-Ontarian potter and a Guyanese visual artist, Sonnet L’Abbé (“Sonnet” is a combination of her parents’ names that has been hers since birth) was raised in Alberta, Manitoba, and Southwestern Ontario. She studied Film and Video at York University, and later took her Masters in English Literature at th...

by Sonnet L'Abbé


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Details & Specs

Title:A Strange ReliefFormat:PaperbackDimensions:96 pages, 8.5 × 5.4 × 0.28 inPublished:April 10, 2001Publisher:McClelland & StewartLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0771045832

ISBN - 13:9780771045837

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Read from the Book

MiscarriageThe clot was born long before, in sleep. My womba makeshift welcome, long to warm, like the roomkept so clean, so well prepared, a guest is startlingand shocks the quiet air. The hard thingis to see a cycle through, misnaming the orbit: expecting the red bloom, to wait for itwatering as the shoot, having filled its own season, closes and returns itself to earth. A reasonvisits, hurries away with apologies. I wantedto be disrupted, to be unable to unbend, hauntedby murmurs, blows, some stirring: but I am as wholeas a woman slept through a storm, toldin the morning of fierce thunder and struck trees, who believes, but has nothing save the proof she seeson waking: wet sidewalks, garden soil heavy with rain. A scarlet flower between my legs. Maybe if painhad announced the departure, waved like a gloved handin the window of a retreating train, I could standnow suitably deserted, suitably empty, cradling my ownelbows in my palms. They said she had grownfor six weeks, quite normally, then stopped. I criedat the terrible strength of my own desire. I triedto remember another dream, besides this one fulfilled, but my sleep's clothing was stained. I killedher with a wish, as guilty as the blue sky. Freakof nature, wilted instinct, leaky vessel. She was the weakoffspring I ate, piece by piece by piece. Where is the grief? I dig for a missing body, unearth a strange relief.

Editorial Reviews

“It is unusual for such exceptional talent to be presented in a first collection of poetry, assured and fired with such scope and intensity and humorous moulding of the clay as went into such treasures as the Grecian urn.”
–Austin Clarke