Pan Lit Games: Gymnastics

July 28, 2015

Our games are nearly at an end with just one more event to go. Find tranquility in their passing with our second-last: Rhythmic Gymnastics.  Wikipedia tells us that in rhythmic gymnastics, one or more athletes manipulate one or more apparatuses – which, frankly, shows us that they don’t know anything about sports either. What we do know is that when those ribbons swirl and dip, circle and swish in real rhythmic gymnastics, we catch ourselves entranced, and quite possibly, drooling. Our picks for the Pan Lit Games rhythmic gymnastics final are books with covers as colourful and prose as muscular as any rhythmic gymnast.

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Our games are nearly at an end with just one more event to go. Find tranquility in their passing with our second-last: Rhythmic Gymnastics. Wikipedia tells us that in rhythmic gymnastics, one or more athletes manipulate one or more apparatuses – which, frankly, shows us that they don’t know anything about sports either. What we do know is that when those ribbons swirl and dip, circle and swish in real rhythmic gymnastics, we catch ourselves entranced, and quite possibly, drooling. Our picks for the Pan Lit Games rhythmic gymnastics final are books with covers as colourful and prose as muscular as any rhythmic gymnast.

The first athlete on the mat is Louis Cabri’s Posh Lust (New Star Books). Its routine is an explosion of non sequiturs and invocations of all kinds: Richard Nixon, the Canadian Wheat Board, Ezra Pound, and meat. Its cover is psychedelic, a little unnerving but still a good time; or, as designer Oliver McPartlin called it, “Karl Lagerfeld tied up and abused by William Burroughs and Hannibal Lecter in a Ralph Bakshi cartoon of a peyote-fueled S&M session. But, you know, fun.” With a complicated twirl of frosting, Posh Lust has dazzled the Pan Lit judges (and perhaps left them a little ill).

After a thorough cleaning, the mat is ready for the next contender, the aptly gymnastically-named Somersault by Nancy Anne Miller (Guernica Editions). The swirl of the ribbon, evocative of an island paradise, nevertheless reveals what tourists ignore: a history of colonialism and slavery. Poet Miller, now living in the United States, marries her current experiences as an immigrant with those of her conflicted-yet-fond memories of Bermuda, her former home country.

Next up is the naturally erotic stylings of Summertime Swamp-Love, by Patricia Young (Palimpsest Press). A routine of animal and plant mating rituals captivates the remainder of the audience not already swooning at the pitcher-plant adorned cover. The collection expertly employs fastidious scientific research, but it’s the speculative love lives of these previously a-romantic species that makes the routine so dazzling.

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As the only non-fiction contender leaps onto the mat, spectators are undoubtedly stunned at its poignant humanity. Abou Farman’s Clerks of the Passage (Linda Leith Publishing) deftly weaves tales of modern migration with a telling of the policies that help and hinder refugees move to safer places around the world. The routine leaves the audience sometimes jubilant, and other times aghast, but always with a newfound compassion for these complicated journeys from some of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Our last gymnast to approach the mat is the short story collection The Blue Camaro by R.P. MacIntyre (Thistledown Press). Author R.P. MacIntyre is a previous winner of the Vicky Metcalf Short Story Award, and that talent is evident in this short but sweet routine, brimming with memories of coming of age in Nova Scotia. Each graceful story is packed with nostalgia, and the spectators – young and young-at-heart ones especially – won't be able to help laughing and crying along with each tale. 

While all of our literary gymnasts deserve a round of polite clapping (and several of whisperings about bribed judges), we give the top prize to Posh Lust, because we can’t even with that cover (did we mention it’s covered in MEAT?). Follow along with the rest of our events, here


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