REVIEW: SIREN | BY KATERI LANTHIER

Signal Editions | 2017 | 80 Page | $17.95 | Purchase online

Reviewed by Hannah Brown on Toronto Review of Books:

In this collection, the poet delivers rich combinations of imagery, much of it urban, and often at night, as in one of the most startling poems, “Guanyin Lamp.”  Here both late night city streets, and the mythological east are evoked: we are presented as readers with the image of a city shop window lit with the figure of the Merciful One, where, the speaker says she rests her  “forehead on the glass. Moth-hearted, lost in adulthood.”  The surrender in the image is familiar to any of us who has felt in need of mercy.

What else does a siren have to say about urban desire? The language in “Rich” is so frankly sensual:

We met under the bridge.
You steepled my nipple.
Our unspoken names
Swirled into each other.

Desire is also dangerous.  In “Those Pretty Wrongs,” the speaker is caught:

I have one heel spiked in the streetcar track.
Flamingoed. You lift me out of my shoe.
We are flagrant. We force a swerve.
We are the storm in the drivers’ eyes.

Images of water, in all its forms, illuminate the emotional sense of these poems. This constancy of imagery is subtle throughout the collection, whether snow, storm, or tears, but this is a realization that comes only upon reflection. So much more is going on.

Read the full review on the Toronto Review of Books website!