Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Domestic Poetry Exploded

Aptly describing it as a "collision of danger and decorum," Lorraine York is dazzled by Nyla Matuk's debut:
In Matuk’s Sumptuary Laws, the domestic is deeply infused with the bizarre. A dizzying array of metaphorical pyrotechnics adorns Matuk’s description of the banal. “Sunday Afternoon Croquet,” for instance, a poem about playing that most placid of domestic lawn games, becomes saturated with repressed chaos; the poet imagines herself bending over the ball, “elfin green bitchy lady” feeling “like a mad Roman emperor with a history of failures / at miniature golf”—a fabulously bathetic collision of the bizarre and the tame. For Matuk, this is life as we know it: the everyday suddenly disclosing its grand theatre. Her collisions of language and metaphor are so daring, the jumps between image and image so precipitous, that she provides, at the end of the volume, a gloss on some of the references. This is more than a paratextual glossary, though; the entries themselves refuse to follow the convention of explanatory material acting as a taming explanation. The most witty of these is the note explaining that her description of “Petit-four disciplinarians” refers to six- or seven-year-old bossy little girls: “Sometimes these girls are dressed in the colours of buttercream icing on petit-fours, but they are sometimes just little fucks.” Matuk’s poetic lexicon may be ornate, but it refuses the cloyingly sweet; here is sweet “feminine” domestic poetry exploded.

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