Rhodes Scholar and poet Carellin Brooks explores the regimens of academia and the discoveries of her own body through various BDSM sexual practices. In poetry that’s breathless, elliptical, and haunting, Learned asks who is the learner, and what is learned, whether in the penultimate scholastic setting or the dungeon.
These questions echo through depictions of elite institutional practices at Oxford University and fetish scenes in a dank London pub temporarily given over to the scenes such women enact. Similar, divergent, intertwined, these environmental extremes play as a scrim for Brook’s prior experience of family dissolution, abuse, and love affairs.
Learned asks us to question the way education is both packaged and received, underscoring the importance of the protagonist’s learning at the hands of those who torment her and are tormented in return. Bold, nuanced and triumphant, it reclaims both the subjectivity of educational practice and the female body.
Praise for Learned:
“An exuberant Blakean song–of experience and innocence, of body and mind. With a wry wit, Brooks evokes a unique education—Oxford by day, London by night—and hard-won enlightenment.” —Brett Josef Grubisic, author of My Two-Faced Luck
Carellin Brooks is the author of One Hundred Days of Rain, which won the 2016 ReLit Award for Fiction and the 2016 Edmund White Award for Debut LGBT+ Fiction, and was published in French by Les Allusifs. She is also the author of Fresh Hell, Every Inch a Woman, and Wreck Beach. Brooks lives in Vancouver and is a lecturer at the University of British Columbia.