ExpresswayBook - 2009
Shortlisted for the Governor General's Award for Poetry
This poem resembles urban sprawl. This poem resembles the freedom to charge a fee. The fee occurs in the gaps. It is an event. It is not without precedent. It is a moment in which you pay money. It is a tribute to freedom of choice.
Reality is a parking lot in Qatar. Reality is an airstrip in Malawi.
Meanwhile the expressway encloses, the expressway round and around the perimeters like wagon trains circling the bonfire, all of them, guns pointed, Busby Berkeley in the night sky.
Echoing the pastoral and elegiac modes of the Romantic poets, whose reverence for nature never prevented them from addressing it with all the ideas and sensibilities their times allowed, Sina Queyras's stunning collection explores the infrastructures and means of modern mobility. Addressing the human project not so much as something imposed on nature but as an increasingly disturbing activity within it, Expressway exposes the paradox of modern mobility: the more roads and connections we build, the more separate we feel. 'Cleanse the doors of perception,' Blake urged, and with that in mind, Queyras has written a bravely lyrical critique of our ethical and ecological imprint, a legacy easily blamed on corporations and commerce, but one we've allowed, through our tacit acquiescence, to overwhelm us. Every brush stroke, every bolt and nut, every form and curve in our networks of oil and rubber, every thought and its material outcome - each decision can make or unmake us.
'The works in Expressway are all so tightly wound, hyper-distilled and stressed ... This is poetry for the apocalypse.'
-- Broken Pencil
'As a poet, Queyras is secretly romantic, writing with lyricism and a voice that's unafraid of sentiment or emotion ... Queyras' words spark like pickaxes on old asphalt.'
-- Eye Weekly
'Queyras show[s] what poetry can do when it simultaneously maps roadways of transportation and lines of human thought.'
'Eclectic engagements characterize Queyras's work, but any suggestion of characterization of her work immediately brings a morphing to something new, intelligent, and provocative ... Sina Queyras is a poet to read and reckon with.'
-- Lambda Literary Review