Our National Poetry Month Celebration continues with Alessandra Naccarato. We’re pleased to share two selections from her debut book, Re-Origin of Species, which was shortlisted today for the 2020 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award from the League of Canadian Poets! Congratulations to Alessandra!
The poems in Re-Origin of Species journey through illness and altered states to position disability and madness as evolutionary traits; skilled adaptations aligned with ecological change. A lyric contemplation of our relationship to the environment, this book looks at the interdependence of species. Weaving personal narratives with a study of the insect kingdom, it draws parallels between human illness, climate change, and the state of peril in the natural world. In praise of the collection, Kai Cheng Tom writes, “This is exquisite, playful, intentional poetry—and it just might be medicine for us all.”
First up is the poem ‘Homestead’. Click on the video to watch Alessandra read the poem and follow along with the text below.
We borrowed a farmhouse and grew a glory of armpit hair.
Yard-high with yarrow, thigh-high with silk, uninvited
to the wedding down the road. What they’d call peculiar,
at the punch bowl, gas station. Queer as unbelonging.
Queer as the oak leans and moss invites itself in. We left
the city without a driver’s licence. The roof full of crows.
A hive, a coop, a barrel of rain. Slow-dancing between
appetizers with my hand on your silk. They ask us politely
to leave. Queer as in trespass. As in all of god’s creatures.
Outside, you can hear a goat opening a universe.
My sister’s hands on Pluto, turning. There is a black hole
humming in a high school, in a drugstore nearby.
Nobody gets out of themselves alive. We look to Venus,
count names we can touch. Poplar, bulrush, homestead.
Crescent, willow, dyke. You don’t get to take it with you,
the sign reads: you might as well dance now.
Next up is an excerpt from the long poem ‘Autogenesis’. Watch Alessandra read the poem and follow along by clicking on the link to download a PDF of the text.
Click to download the PDF of the text: Excerpt from Autogenesis by Alessandra Naccarato from Re-Origin of Species
Alessandra Naccarato is the recipient of the 2015 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers and the winner of the 2017 CBC Poetry Prize. A two-time finalist for Arc Magazine’s Poem of Year and the Edna Steabler Personal Essay Prize, she holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, and has toured nationally and internationally as a spoken word artist. She is based between Toronto, Ontario and Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. Re-Origin of Species is her debut poetry collection. Her next book, a collection of lyrical essays, is forthcoming from Book*hug in 2021.