cover image Dead Horse

Dead Horse

Niina Pollari. Birds, LLC. (SPD, dist.), $16 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-0-9914298-1-3

In her debut collection, Pollari's violently visceral confrontations with the body exude savageness, just as she professes "I'm very vulnerable." Her work is startling in its starkness and crisp, distinct voice; growing more evocative as it progresses. Pollari's confessional tone is deeply personal, whimsical, and haunted. "All I want to know is/ do you love me/ now that I can dance," Pollari asks before proclaiming, "I am lonely/ without you/ the killing night comes down/ like a horse from heaven." Despite the unnerving attraction of her creepy confessionality, at times Pollari's poetry can adopt an almost absurdly childish and immature quality. "I want everyone to stay away from me," she writes, "If they can't touch me in a way I like/ In a way that feels like a teddybear being thrown at my face." Elsewhere, bodies are ground ("grinding up their mini-mini skeletons/ chewing their soft spines") and torn ("When I tear pieces of my cuticles I eat them because/ I don't want them to end up abandoned"), as well as used a source of connection and metaphor ("I have always had a very connected relationship/ with my body"). Pollari's poetry blazes and stings with the intensity and ferociousness of a fresh wound. (Nov.)