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Poetry by Kathryn Mockler
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The Saddest Place on Earth
When Donald Rumsfeld briefed his press secretary on how to deal with the media, he said: “Begin with an illogical premise and proceed perfectly logically to an illogical conclusion…They [the media] do it all the time.” Kathryn Mockler’s new collection of poems applies Rumsfeld’s advice to powerful poetic ends. Deeply interested in American politics and the absurdity of our mediated relation to the political sphere, the beautiful and entertaining narrative poems in The Saddest Place on Earth follow absurd premises to their most logical conclusions. Here, God appears on Oprah, Hurt Feelings and Anger rent a cottage together on Lake Huron for a week in August, and the saddest place on earth is discovered in a Chinese restaurant at the end of a strip-mall. Kathryn Mockler’s approach to language and the world results in an extremely engaging, moving and often hilarious poetics of deep disorientation.
Mockler’s skill with language and narrative beat lends itself well to these unapologetic poems. At times I found myself groaning out loud, or shaking my head to get a grip on what I had just read. There is heart and terrific depth in this work.
At times, the starkness and simplicity of the poems is poignant. In “Air Vents,” Mockler wrestles with a sadly all too familiar social and political theme. The poem reads, “I think about the shooting / because all shootings / are one shooting. I think / about all the places to / hide to avoid bullets: air / vents, storage lockers, / somewhere normal.” The idea that “all shootings are one shooting” shows the absurdity of mass shootings being labeled with dates, names, and places, and instead, focuses on the loss that affects all. There is also the idea of helplessness, which is a common theme throughout the poems, and the idea of places where one can hide—which, as it turns out—aren’t many and aren’t all that feasible.
“Every page is a new delightful terror, a horrific tickle. We get to hear about Buddha joining Weight Watchers, God and the Devil sharing the same guest table at a wedding as dates of mutual friends and so on. Today's book of poetry just loved Kathryn Mockler's earnest whimsy.
Mockler makes the reader feel like an intimate insider to her slick reason and gymnastic logic.”
Author Kathryn Mockler
Kathryn Mockler is author of the poetry book Onion Man (Tightrope Books, 2011). Her writing has appeared in such venues as Joyland, The Antigonish Review, Rattle Poetry, CellStories, PIF, The Puritan, La Petite Zine, nthposition, and This Magazine, The Capilano Review, Descant, and The Windsor Review. In 2005, she attended the Canadian Film Centre's Writers' Lab and wrote two short films for the NBC/Universal Short Dramatic Film Program. Her films have been broadcast on TMN, Movieola, and Bravo and have been screened at festivals such as the Washington Project for the Arts Experimental Media Series, Toronto International Film Festival, Palm Springs International Festival, Worldfest, Cinequest, and EMAE. Currently, she teaches creative writing at the University of Western Ontario and is the co-editor of the UWO online journal The Rusty Toque. The Saddest Place on Earth is her second complete collection of poems.
The Saddest Place on Earth, Kathryn Mockler, 100 pp., 5 x 8, Poetry, November 2012
ISBN: 978-1-897190-32-6 (paper) . . . $17.95
ISBN: 978-1-897190-89-0 ( Bound*) . . . $31.95
* This book is “perfect bound” with an add-on
hand bound cover, no dust jacket.
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“Mockler’s work is entirely free of the gratuitous image-making, the facile metaphors that so many young (and not so young) poets substitute for good writing; here we are in the presence of subjects and predicates wielded bravely in the plain language of telling, as inherited, absorbed, reflected in the ‘family of work’ that includes, among others, Lydia Davis, J. Robert Lennon and Richard Brautigan.”
Stephen Osborne, Geist