FROM “POETRY CURE: MUSEUM OF KINDNESS BY SUSAN ELMSLIE” ON ALL LIT UP
Museum of Kindness is a collection of poems that register that symbolic lack in various ways, sometimes by offering as counterpoint the vulnerability that is at some level kin to kindness. The book is structured in four sections — sort of like four connecting rooms in a museum of lived experience and imaginative dwelling. The opening section, “Material,” contains poems of childhood, adolescence, and “crossing over,” which together trace the narrative trajectory of the Künstlerroman or artist’s novel. These are followed by the poems in “Trigger Warning,” which reflect on my experience of a school shooting (Dawson College, 2006) and on the conventions of the genre that we have all come to know too well from watching it rehearsed in the media over the last twenty years or so. The poems in the third section, “Threshold,” cross over into really unpredictable territory: birthing and parenting, in particular when a child has various challenges that eventually might be called autism. The last, titular, section moves outwards as well as circles back, exploring other subject positions through found poetry and dramatic monologues.
Susan Elmslie’s collection Museum of Kindness is shortlisted for the 2018 Pat Lowther Memorial Award.