Basma Kavanagh

Basma Kavanagh is a painter, poet and letterpress printer living in Kentville, Nova Scotia. She produces artist’s books under the imprint Rabbit Square Books. Her poems have appeared in the chapbook A Rattle of Leaves, published by Red Dragonfly Press, and included in anthologies in the United States.

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Basma Kavanagh

2012 / Poetry / $19.95
9781554471157 / Trade paper / 96 pp

In her debut collection, Basma Kavanagh engages the natural world and seeks to explore our relationship to it. Hers is a poetics of description which subverts scientific observation and the authoritative language of nomenclature for mythopoetic ends. In the opening section (“Moisture”), precipitation is dissected and categorized, but ultimately the deluge of “rain making rain, /making rain” overwhelms controlled interrogation and undulating imagery saturates everything. Nomenclature reappears elsewhere in the book, attempting to anchor object poems about west-coast flora and fauna—salmon, elk, bear, bigleaf maple, bog myrtle—which otherwise drift toward the mythworld and gesture in the direction of the ethereal and the totemic. Understanding that language can be most precise when it harbours ambiguity and surprise, Kavanagh experiments with pattern poems and the layering of multiple voices in her attempt to express “a fullness /an absence /of self.” This is a book which turns over rocks and looks under them in search of truth in its soft, damp hiding places, poems which instruct us to “[d]escend. Blend /your knowing with the breath of earth”.

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