Caitlin Stobie, Thin Slices (Verve Poetry Press, 2022)
Caitlin Stobie’s first collection Thin Slices cuts deep. In the strange land of the first poem, ‘Waking a Sleeping Rabbit by Surrounding Him with Grapes’, the speaker explains that ‘[in] this frame, I am the fruits of tight skin lined artfully round your twitching’. The speaker is a grape being pulled into the rabbit’s vulnerability. In this world, ‘it’s unclear who’s the sacrifice’. The speaker’s final plea, whether as grape or poet, is for ‘the thumbnail’s knife to slice me open, please’. Here, the usual standards of a lyric ‘I’ are compromised, giving way to a voice that’s much less amenable to being held whole. There is an abiding appetite to dissect. Everyone and everything is brought into dangerous play in this opening anatomising gambit. These poems are full of rich, embryonic scenes that in their figurative and literal bearing of fruit do not shy away from feelings usually hidden. This is true of ‘The Fig’ and the lemon that bookend the collection. Secretive and sour properties are brought under the microscope to explore desire and fertility. The speaker in ‘Skeleton Equation’, for example, muses on the matter of being ‘kissed upside down’. ‘[T]hat way’ they conclude ‘you thought I was smiling too’. In ‘Ballad of a Good Boy’ the scene of a dog straining on its lead takes the speaker back to 2013 to remember ‘the man who dragged you to his office but also your own desperation, those tugging eyes’. These are not consensual moments, nor are they outright rejections ...
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