Arts + Culture » Literary

Precordial Thump

Zoe Whittall (Exile Editions)

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Toronto writer Zoe Whittall's new poetry collection Precordial Thump packs a punch. It can be read back to front cover, beginning to end. Either vantage point showcases a divide: the honest and the dishonest. Both the liar and lied to emerge---action and reaction---all words have consequence. A fixation with medical language and the crucial aspects of what it means to be human, to love and to be loved are woven into the poetics of this collection.

Pop culture played a critical role in Whitall's previous poetry books The Best Ten Minutes of Your Life and The Emily Valentine Poems, yet this body of work portrays a more introspective, brash, urban voice. "Improper Use of an Ambulance Stretcher" and "Dear Liary" feature pivotal aspects in time, flashes of the commonplace, the sublime. The very moments that define us. Whittall is a documenter, a mapmaker. Her marriage of medicine and poetry, "Begin With the End in Mind" and "In Spite of all the Damage" breaks the mould of staggering heartbreak aftermath, though it's the universal-shaped bruises of "Abrasion" and "Premature" that will remind readers all moments are precious, no matter how earth-shattering or paradoxical. All life is luck, love, lies and memory.

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