Slinky Naive: Poetry by Caroline Szpak

The poems in Caroline Szpak’s debut collection Slinky Naive are like a puzzle to be clicked into place: words, turns of phrases, metaphors and similes are pieced together revealing a delightfully unusual collection. Today, publisher Anvil Press tells us a little more about the poems in this collection that poet Stuart Ross describes as “visceral, longing-infused poems” that when funny is like “laughing before the blade comes down.”  


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From the biomechanical to the cartographic, the poems in Caroline Szpak’s Slinky Naïve, identify the soma of place, the body as landscape and vice versa, with the precision of symphonic triangulation. “Everything soundsthe same from inside a plane.Even the warm air” The first poem, “Grandfathers of Bogatynia,” opens in motion, in midair, somewhere between sound and sight and touch. The poem’s title also seems to point to place, or at least lineage, a descendent of place. Szpak traces some sort of history across time and space, and the body too, delving deep into the chemistry of being (“A Tropy Atrophy,” “Biochemical Romance,” “Somatosensory Evoked.”) and fully embodying the senses as they shift and slink from one stair to the next, poems hypnotizing by the very nature of their constant motion: “Almost impossible not to fall/down the stairs after it” (from “Everyone Loves a Slinky”). FULL DISCLOSURE: These poems had me reaching for the dictionary constantly, delighted, like some sort of code-breaker, as I merely enjoyed the intricacies of Szpak’s beautiful mind as glimpsed on the page.“…Just writeme one gentle poem, he saidCan you do that?”The final lines of Szpak’s “Grandfather of Bogatynia,” seem to implore, and I am reminded, of course, of Dylan Thomas raging against the dying of the light. Szpak does him one better and refuses to go gently. Instead she is sandpaper smallpox strident against the seashore: “Duchamp’s Readymate/of the year” amidst a “sandbox of understudies.”Slinky exists in a place of myriad namings, her tongue caught in the spokes of language that never stop moving, “Half moon pushed/against half moon.” Celestial and yet distinctly corporeal, hissing and staggering and warm to the touch. Lose your place and find another in the codex of this strange and unguent poetry, an unusual salve for the busy mind. Treat like with like. Sink to Szpak’s seabottom; emerge sufficiently calcified.*  *  *
Born in Istanbul, Caroline Szpak is a Polish-Canadian writer who currently lives in Toronto. A graduate of the University of Victoria writing program, her poetry and fiction have appeared in This Magazine, The Capilano Review, subTerrain, Poetry is Dead, CV2, and in the chapbooks Expense Account, Garland Get Your Gun, and The Pomeranian Front. Slinky Naive is her first collection of poetry.* .*  *Thanks to Cara Lang at Anvil Press for sharing Caroline Szpak’s new poetry with us. Slinky Naive is available on All Lit Up.