The Certainty Dream
Winner of the 2010 A. M. Klein Poetry Prize
Shortlisted for the 2010 Griffin Poetry Prize
Descartes asked, How can I know that I am not now dreaming? The Certainty Dream poses similar questions through poetry, but without the trappings of traditional philosophy. Kate Hall’s bracingly immediate, insistently idiosyncratic debut collection lays bare thetricks and tools of her trade: a mynah bird perches in poems but 'stands for nightingale'; the poet’s antelope turns transparent; she dresses up her orange trees with bark and leaves. As the dream world and the waking world blur, the body and the dimensions it inhabits become a series of overlapping circles, all acting as containers for both knowledge and uncertainty. At times disarmingly plainspoken, at others, singing with lyric possibility, these poems make huge associative leaps. Taken together, they present the argument that to truly 'know' something, one must first recognize its traces in something else.
'Kate Hall unites philosophy and wisdom – without forgetting the chipotle-lime mustard.'
– Montreal Review of Books
'The Certainty Dream weaves its way through absurdist outbursts and giddy indulgences of graduate-level philosophy while remaining rooted in the immediacy and, yes,the certainty of everyday life … Hall’s poems unfold with wit, colourful layers and no overwhelming sense of ego or pomp.'
– The Dominion
'These are profoundly perfect poems.'
– Eye Weekly
'A whimsical and enlightening riff on the philosophic nature of knowing … Hall's imagination liberates language and subject at every blink.'
– Winnipeg FreePress