Today, our Fall 2021 preview series wraps up with a sneak peek at The Absence of Zero, R. Kolewe’s elegy to the 20th century and the disparate fragments of its ideas that continue to disrupt our present. A triumphant celebration of the long poem tradition, The Absence of Zero consists of 256 16-line quartets, and 34 free-form interruptions. This slow-moving, haunting work is a beautiful example of thinking in language, a meditation on time and memory in both content and form.
This very special book has already appeared on some of our favourite ‘Most Anticipated’ Fall preview lists, including CBC Books and 49th Shelf. Margaret Christakos, author of Her Paraphernalia: On Motherlines, Sex, Blood, Loss and Selfies, calls The Absence of Zero “a daring, daily progression…Gorgeous. Steadfastly urgent.” “Know that once you enter, there is no going back,” adds KIRBY, author of Poetry is Queer, “The presence of absence, all too familiar, begins to read, occupy you…Prepare to be mesmerized.”
We are pleased to share the first two poems from the collection below. Enjoy! The Absence of Zero will be released on November 9, and is available now for pre-order from our online shop, or from your local independent bookseller.
The line moves. The shadow moves.
Early winters almost remembered. Not exactly how to empty out the teaching
where relativistic effects are important:
filling time with pages instead.
Not yet & then after there is a word.
A family of curves, coastline doubling back to television snow. Orion first. Exploitation
of electrical demand / power factors / naive presence —
without clocks how small time is church bells & canonical hours in the induced topology. A map, a proper map,
so the submanifold may not intersect itself.
Uncertain if there are figures without boundaries, leave pages blank, nothing uncovered
distance scattering error quantum error & so beginning with unrecognized constellations —
Quick motion all corners in this cottage or gentrified row house love & strife or is it love & disease or theft & early transcendentals.
Then its translation reads
a chain of alternatives unchosen / losses
reminding myself that I can delete this rewrite substantially — at this old pine table quiet street slight wind
recollection returns, breathing becomes difficult again, wearying, relative to its centre of mass & also relative to
having lost my way in connections but not connected. Dreaming a different garden, shady, an oak & an owl at once without certainty leaving me
if you are real or the children’s voices
parallel transport to covariant derivative to geodesic. Without memory rust or other words
aureole, variable, wind again, warm skin.
Set them down on the red chair at the top of the stairs.
R. Kolewe was born in Montreal and lives in Toronto. Educated in physics and engineering at the University of Toronto, he pursued a successful career in the software industry for many years. He now lives in Toronto, and writes full time. His work has appeared online at ditch, e-ratio, The Puritan, and (parenthetical), as well as in the Literary Review of Canadaand PRISM International. He is the author of two previous poetry collections, including Afterletters (Book*hug Press, 2014) and Inspecting Nostalgia (2017).