“‘Successful’ art means something to my whole body…
[it] involves having an experience.”
— Metta Sáma
Reading * le animal * & other creatures … is visceral. Waiting for the terrors that “always find a way to enter … you turn your alarm to shiver”; we feel ‘hot slick sharp teeth breaking our flesh’; a “dry spleen” is moved; lovers hear “the grinding crunch/of pigeon bones”. Metta Sáma’s creatures are mostly unglorious: fly, spider, cockroach, human, cat, dog. Through observation, humour and the various interactions enacted in her poems she explores what is beauty and what is perceived to be ‘merely’ pigeon, and endows these unsung creatures with a magnificence of their own. We share her weeks of horror spent with the cockroach in the corner of the house, but she invites us to laugh with her at the ridiculousness of this epic battle: “You imagine a contraption akin to cat stilts and laugh until your fear hurts.” The cat she trusts is going to help her out is, finally, “belly up staring into the ceiling fan imagining you hope an end/to these terrible days.”
Sáma is acutely aware of the irony that “many of us whose ancestors helped build the institutions that kept us out are now financially supporting those same institutions.” But she wants “to transform these realities into art & into questions that are not heavy-handed … or rhetoric.” Despite the poet’s resentment of those who have access to ‘a safe world I can only imagine’, and despite the sound of necks and bones breaking that bubbles as a soundscape under her work, Sáma seems fundamentally optimistic. Rather than the “expectation of cardinals/fiery in the wintered sky”, she says, “Give me the rabid face/of the pigeon… always pointing toward the next hustle.”
*le animal * & other creatures is available to pre-order now and will ship beginning August 14.