Today's Poetry Cure features Mallory Tater's
This Will Be Good (Book*hug), a collection of lyric poems that explore a young woman's developing femininity and an emerging eating disorder. Scroll down for our chat with Mallory about her debut book, self-care, and potato puns, and read "Blue Tuesday" from her collection.
Mallory Tater: This Will Be Good is a lyric poetry manuscript with an autobiographical base that interrogates the construction of gender and femininity within a family of four female siblings. It uses lyricism and imagery to examine family connection and disconnection, the sources and damage of eating disorders and the performance of femininity in the early decades of the 21st century.
ALU: Do you read poetry as a self-care technique? What books in particular have helped you?
MT: I definitely read poetry as self-care. Marie Howe’s What The Living Do has helped me, Kayla Czaga’s For Your Safety Please Hold On and Leah Horlick’s For Your Own Good.
ALU: If you wrote a memoir, what would it be called?
MT: My last name is Tater and I love puns so I feel like I’d do a play-on-words with potatoes to poke fun at my childhood, growing up with three sisters. I’d probably call it Best Spuds For Life or Sooner or Tater.
ALU: What books are you currently reading?
MT: I just started Gurjinder Basran’s novel Someone You Love is Gone and it’s super beautiful and is really drawing me in.
Body. It was mine once, what I pinched
and curved at my parent’s kitchen table,
aproned and lost in childish colour.
I swear. All days of the week colours—
Tuesdays blue, Sundays red.
In dream, I long for my body to feel
more a part of me, I long for colours
to give me the weight I won’t allow myself.
I long for tangerine-coloured paint.
Tangerine will make me a nicer person.
Sometimes I dream of brushing
the teeth of a girl, blooding up the bristles
with her gums, a small, kind pink.
In a neighbouring room, a plasticine mound,
pretty, slack, ready. My hands touch clay
like hands touch hands and I begin to shape
a body, kneel at the clay, she watches
as I make the feet wide, shape toes
into brave paws, twist small trunks
for legs. She touches clay with her free hand,
whispers sun’s in the house, how much
have you been eating, offers me bread and butter
pickles, greener than my envy of her frame.
We exhale mustard clouds. Vinegar,
barbed wire to the gut, swallowing
nettles. It stings us from the inside out.
The girl rolls a ball of clay, a thick tire of it,
places it on the sculpted legs. This is you, this is you
and we watch it all collapse around us, a tired
almost-person dispersed on shag carpet.
How much have you been eating. I roll
the stemmed legs together, begin again
from scratch. In a room so lightless I can taste
dark, the dark is olive oil dripped on a heated pan.
When you can’t control mirrors, your dreams
can’t clean themselves. When you hate a body so young, what happens
Mallory Tater is a writer from the traditional, unceded territories of the Algonquin Anishnaabeg Nation (Ottawa). Mallory’s poetry and fiction have been published in literary magazines across Canada such as Room, CV2, The Malahat Review, The Fiddlehead, The New Quarterly, Carousel, Prism International and Arc Magazine. She was shortlisted for Arc Magazine’s 2015 Poem of The Year Contest, The Malahat Review’s 2016 Far Horizon’s Contest and Room Magazine‘s 2016 Fiction and Poetry Prizes. She was the recipient of CV2’s 2016 Young Buck Poetry Prize. She is the publisher of Rahila’s Ghost Press, a poetry chapbook press. Mallory lives in Vancouver.
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