by Donia Mounsef
ISBN: 978-1-988214-2-14 (paperback)
Page Count: 100 pages
Release Date: February 2018
"These poems sustain a lyrical mediation on boundary and border - both human and territorial, and deserve to be read and savoured." - Marilyn Dumont, author of The Pemmican Eaters (ECW Press), and A Really Good Brown Girl (Brick Books)
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Plimsoll Lines are the marks on the side of a ship’s hull to which vessels can be safely loaded. These words become lyric and capture the “unbearable lightness” of the poetic word coupled with the playful metaphor of floating. Mounsef’s utilizes both these individual poems and the overall collection to drift the reader around themes of wandering, water, and wanting. The collection argues in favor of a return to the word and cultural meditations of language, politics, and the body in a world dominated by the visual and the mediated. Mounsef pushes past borders and combines the abstraction of French, the symbolism of Arabic, and the immediacy of English in a grand tour of the places that poetry can bring the reader.
Donia Mounsef is a Canadian-Lebanese poet, playwright and dramaturge. She splits her time between Toronto and Edmonton where she teaches theatre and poetry at the University of Alberta. She is the author of Slant of Arils (Damaged Goods Press, 2015). Her writing has been published and anthologized in print and online in The Toronto Quarterly, Bluestem, Yes Poetry, Gutter Eloquence, Poetry Quarterly, Skin 2 Skin, Iris Brown, Lavender Review, Linden Avenue, Gravel, 40 Below Anthology, among others.
"This poet asserts that "all writing is a form of separation," and the work coheres around tropes of tidal movement driven by the attraction of celestial bodies of sun and moon which the poet crafts as analogous to human desire/belonging to self/others/land. The tension which drives and deepens this work is the allure and repulsion of connection/disconnection, the challenge of borders, boundaries, definitions. Thus, the poet declares, "stake a territory in the occupied land of uncertainty" because the "walls cannot protect you." These poems sustain a lyrical mediation on boundary and border - both human and territorial, and deserve to be read and savoured." - Cree/Métis poet, Marilyn Dumont, author of The Pemmican Eaters (ECW Press), and A Really Good Brown Girl (Brick Books).
"I think what's really great about Donia Mounsef's poetry is how she takes a political stance, worked through wordplay, then torques it with extra gruesome details (America turned Ben Laden into fish food, fingers chopped are for enhanced compulsion) but also porny enjoyment, almost rap ("where waterboarding is showbiz/just another way to level-up/a pop quiz"), so Mounsef's poetry is never just the "beautiful soul" of self-righteousness. Except it is righteous, she's a dykey Derrida, a Lebanese from Lesbos: "the Geneva Convention is written on toilet paper/the more it piles up the more it stinks" - here that wonderful obscenity of the world-weary middle eastern comes to the fore. But what then is so cool is Mounsef has the range to also, in the middle section Flood Tide, to go all les-neo-eco-lyric, such great poems about the North Saskatchewan River - to get those Cree syllables into a poem - and Brackendale... Mounsef's closing sequence, cuts too close to things - but then, a broke poet appears, "stuffing mushrooms with the precision of a bomb maker." See all those syllables - from waterboarding to North Saskatchewan & mushroom bombs? You're in the presence of a master with this book." - Poet and novelist, Clint Burnham, author of Pound @ Guantánamo (Talonbooks), and The Only Poetry that Matters (Arsenal Pulp Press).