Tag Archives: Coming Through Slaughter

Quote of the Day

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“Come with every wound and every woman you’ve ever loved; every lie you’ve ever told and whatever it is that keeps you up at night. Every mouth you’ve punched in, all the blood you’ve ever tasted. Come with every enemy you’ve ever made and all the family you’ve ever buried and every dirty thing you’ve ever done; every drink that’s burnt your throat and every morning you’ve woken with nothing and no one. Come with all your loss, your regrets, sins, memories, black outs, secrets. I’ve never seen anything more beautiful than you.”

— Warsan Shire

In the wake of yesterday’s fabulously fabulous response to Nayyirah Waheed and her gorgeous lyricism on what is so innate in us as human beings, I had to follow that up with something equally as spectacular. If you visit the kepthoney.com blog, you’ll see the above piece went with/came right after Ms. Waheed’s own sparkling gem.

According to The Poetry Foundation, Warsan Shire is a poet and activist from London, England. She’s the author of the collections Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, Her Blue Body, and Our Men Do Not Belong to Us.

All I know is that her writing, as is evidenced today, reminds me of Michael Ondaatje’s poetry in many ways, like there’s a visceral element to her words that draws you in and allows you to almost taste them. Don’t believe me? Then take a gander at this beaut I can actually remember reading for the first time eons ego in a little place called Mokpo. From Ondaatje’s Coming Through Slaughter:

“He tried to take in the smell of her. The taste of her mouth in the next hotel room they passed along the road. He knew the shape of her body…He went with her for months into the relationship, awkward fist fights, the slow true intimacy, disintegration after they exchanged personalities and mannerisms, the growing tired of each other’s speed…What he wanted was cruel, pure relationship.”

I am admittedly not usually the world’s biggest poetry fan, but the last two posts have me reconsidering my thoughts on this issue. And the two sites I’ve linked to today are great places to start your own exploration into the genre.

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Quote of the Day

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While not his most famous literary achievement, Michael Ondaatje is money in the bank when it comes to beautiful prose regardless of the work you’re reading. The selection below is from Coming Through Slaughter, Ondaatje’s debut work of fiction about legendary cornet player Buddy Bolden, and the same book that would go on to win Amazon.ca’s First Novel Award for 1976.

In a week marred (yes, marred) by Nobelgate, it still confounds me that Mr. Ondaatje has (a) not won a Nobel Prize in Literature to date, and (b) wasn’t  even in the running this year. (According  to an article by Russell Smith in last week’s Globe and Mail, “The Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami was the leader at 4/1, followed by people such as Syrian poet Adonis, Kenyan Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Albanian Ismail Kadare. The only American writers who were considered even a possibility were the cerebral and serious Philip Roth and Don de Lillo.”)

But without further ado, here’s just one example (among thousands) of how Michel Ondaatje bends the English language to his will, effortlessly, it seems, in ways mere mortals like myself could never hope to accomplish.

“Accidental lust on the bus carrying her new into his dead brain so even months later, years later, pieces of her body and character returned. What he wanted was cruel, pure relationship.”

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