As I do every year, I went to Word On The Street, last month. I always try to catch a reading or two and this year, it was local poet Robert Priest I went to hear. Little did I know I was about to be knocked on my ass by the young woman reading with him.
The session was entitled "Out of the Darkness" and supposedly invited "you to reflect on emerging from darkness" or some such bullshit structure forced upon art to give it a sound byte. Sara Peters arrived with her blond hair pinned on top of her head, wearing a simple skirt and red, red lipstick. She sat on her stool and evenly read lines such as:
"And Goldilocks said My life is broken, my heart is over
Snap my neck like a broccoli-stalk."
I fell immediately in love.
After the too-short readings, there was a Q and A moderated by some dude who asked pointed, often inappropriate questions. Whether because she does not know how to play the literary interview game, or because she was deliberately subverting it, Sara paused after each question, then quietly, simply, answered, "Yes," or "I don't know." in her beautiful voice.
My affection deepened.
I bought her book, entitled 1996, and had her sign it. I mentioned that some of her lines sounded familiar to me and it turns out she had made a recording for the Poetry Magazine podcast that I had heard. She seemed genuinely pleased that I recognized it.
Over the past weeks I have spent quite a bit of time with the book. This is serious work - elegant and mysterious - about tough subjects; cruelty, eroticism, abuse, youth and self discovery. It speaks to me deeply, to the person I once was and to the person into whom I have evolved. I get more meaning from each reading and look forward her next book.
Some other favourite random lines:
"I'm not sure why I'm convinced
That expressing contempt is my life's work -
And I should have been back at the party."
" ...The air smells
Like the mulch of primeval concupiscence! I cried,
and what could you do but agree?"
"but up was the only unoccupied direction,
so how else to get there? And always
these questions. Who set those fires?
Who broke those mirrors? Is that your blood?"
1996 Sara Peters
House of Anansi Press, 2013