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A meditative and piercing collection that explores traumas both ordinary and out of the ordinary.
Museum of Kindness, Montreal poet Susan Elmslie's searching second collection of poetry, is a book that bravely examines "genres" familiar and hard to fathom: the school shooting, PTSD, raising a child who has a disability. It is a collection about thresholds big and small. In poems grounded in the domestic and in workaday life, poems burnished by silence and the weight of the unspoken, poems by turns ironic and sincere, Elmslie asks "What, exactly, is / unthinkable?" Confronted by "the mismatch / between our need for meaning / and our inability to find it," the poet reflects on the possibility of the miraculous in hard-won insights, in "a comparatively / uncomplicated joy."
Of the "Museum of Kindness" evoked in the title poem, Elmslie writes, "There isn't one." This and many other poems in the collection confront that absence and emerge from the silence to consider the duality of loss, the gift of "ordinary comfort," and the transformative possibilities of art. Candid, forthright, urgent, celebratory, and wise, this is a book for all of us; in it, we encounter a sober and unflinching gaze that meets us where we really live.
"... These poems are so acute, so clear-eyed in their brutal wisdom, that I had to put the book down to rest between poems, like a woman in labor, entirely wrung out. Museum of Kindness is a masterpiece of loss transformed by love into some of the most greathearted, lyrically daring poems I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Susan Elmslie has written a brilliant, unforgettable book." --Rachel Rose, Vancouver's Poet Laureate