CBC BOOKS CANADIAN POETRY COLLECTIONS TO WATCH FOR IN FALL 2023
In his follow-up to SKY WRI TEI NGS, Nasser Hussain tackles the absurdity of the English language through a modern take love poems
The term “Love Language” can be read at least three ways: as an imperative, as the signoff to a letter, and as a contemporary way of talking about relationship styles. None of these would be wrong in this book.
In his followup to the acclaimed SKY WRI TEI NGS, written entirely in airport codes, Nasser Hussain moves toward a more expansive version of experimentation; in a time of physical lockdown, his pandemic poetics refuse to be confined. And so we have poems that repeat and hypnotize as English becomes more and more absurd, that compare an affair to a relationship with Apple, that list love poems the poet loves.
But most of all, we see a deep affection for language: its multiple meanings, the ways it makes us feel, and for the ways that language lets us talk about complicated things playfully, like love. Generously handing out tenderness like a child with a sack full of Valentine's Day cards, the poems of Love Language revel in love's warm glow and make sure there’s enough room for anyone to join.
"Think of 'time as a lantern,' suggests Nasser Hussain, in these inimitable poems that take play seriously and allow seriousness to enter the room disguised as incantation. These are poems that long to dismiss the lyric’s most recent pretty mask of polite propriety and instead take us to the lyric’s ancient roots. It started way back, the poet says, 'when a cave person made a grunt,' to speak the name of a thing. Indeed. This is the lyric’s ancient pact with the world: to spin playful language into seriousness of giving things their names—what are we without this speaking, this tune? Hussain knows this and writes beautiful poems—and I, for one, am grateful." – Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic
"Hussain's humour is never complacent; it is the opposite of a defence mechanism (we are encouraged to imagine such a thing) and wryly sidesteps the bad binary of conservative withdrawal as set against algorithm-envenomed hyperassertion. He puts into words a new masculinity maturer than we deserve, that acknowledges swerves of defiance to be inseparable from underswells of doubt." – Vidyan Ravinthiran, author of The Million-Petalled Flower of Being Here
“The Garden of Eden, it turns out, is always just a layover away.” – Sam Anderson, New York Times Magazine on SKY WRI TEI NGS